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03/26/2014 12:00:00 AM


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Topical Issues

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Broadband Service Charges

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Broadband services

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Communications

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charges for

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Topical Issues\Broadband Service Charges

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Broadband Service Charges

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Communications\Broadband services, charges for

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Deputy Michael Moynihan

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Michael Moynihan

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Snippet Contents:

I wish to raise the need for the Government to discuss the cost of broadband in Ireland and appreciate the presence in the Chamber of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resource to respond to this Topical Issue. I am sure the Minister is aware a new study has found that Ireland has the third highest cost of broadband in the European Union when making comparisons in respect of the cheapest package available. The research was carried out by the European Commission last year and examined comparative costs of broadband across the European Union. The study, carried out by SamKnows, found that Irish consumers who get their broadband using xDSL technology only receive 49.9% of the speeds advertised by their Internet service provider, which is well below the European Union average of 71% of the advertised speeds. I have raised this issue a number of times, both in this Chamber and in committees and so on. This finding is shocking and the Minister will remember that I tabled an amendment to the ESB (Electronic Communications Networks) Bill 2013 to deal with this issue, which was rejected at the time.
The survey found out that the Irish consumer pays a minimum of €31.40 per month for broadband up to a maximum of slightly more than €60 per month, which ranks as the third highest in the European Union. Surprisingly, within the European Union's Internal Market, the research found a 400% variation in price between the cheapest and most expensive broadband packages, underlining the variable nature of broadband charges. For a country such as Ireland, which prides itself on being at the cutting-edge of technology in the world, this is not good news as it has an impact. Services such as broadband are increasingly necessary and are essential to carry out business and to compete on a commercial level and the cost of such services affects how consumers act. The high cost of broadband will restrict people from moving to e-commerce and e-services. Another survey carried out by Eurobarometer found that approximately three quarters of people living in Ireland limit calls made on their mobile telephones to national numbers and numbers in other European Union states as a result of the charges. The study also found that approximately 70% of people in Ireland limit their fixed line calls to other European Union countries and mobile or fixed line networks run by other operators, due to concerns about charges. In a European Union that espouses the Single Market, this is most disappointing. The Minister should be working to end these charges as soon as possible and should support any action to so do in the European Parliament.
As for the cost of broadband in Ireland, as I stated during the debate on the aforementioned Bill, I accept and welcome the entry of the ESB into the market. This should increase competition in the broadband and electronic communications markets, which hopefully will result in reduced costs and increased broadband coverage throughout the country, although I am not certain whether it will extend to those areas that are devoid of broadband coverage at present. I ask the Minister to outline his thoughts as to the reason broadband in Ireland is so expensive. He also might outline the actions he will take in future to try to bring down the cost, as well as outlining what he intends to do to ensure that Irish consumers get the service for which they are paying, that is, the service that is being advertised. I assure the Minister that my party will be supportive of any measures he might outline to bring about better and lower-cost broadband, as well as a better service of broadband throughout the communities to make sure that businesses and homes in Ireland have a proper broadband service.