IrelandOffline have, for years, been highlighting the lack of broadband in Ireland. It’s no secret that the biggest source of Broadband here is DSL, and the vast majority of that is supplied by eircom. Recently in the media eircom have been dishing out a lot of self praise, claiming that they’ve almost done all they have to do, and that the rest is down to the Government to finance.
Playing on Northern Ireland’s 100% coverage partly funded by the Government, eircom would have you believe that they are just finished a job well done. They are looking for funding to complete the last 7 – 12% (depending on where you read the figures).
Here’s a few reasons why we shouldn’t let that financing go ahead, without some radical change of thinking in eircom, and hard terms applied to the funding.
- They have been asset striping the company since it’s take over
- They have been under-investing in their network, despite their claims of investing the EU average. They have invested less than the depreciation value of the network, for years
- They have one of the highest line failure rates in the EU. Despite sympathetic claims from eircom, ComReg and the DCMNR that we were late starters, .COM burst, and different spatial/population density, we continue to have 25-30% failure rates in urban exchanges. Anyone in the industry, bar eircom maybe, will tell you that those rates are much higher for rural exchanges. I say Northern Ireland can do it, why can’t we?
- They have consistently played the media to paint a rosy picture. The Amber Programme (where a technician will make a best effort repair on your line to make it qualify for DSL) was announced over a year ago on radio, but is only becoming available now, and only if you persist.
- There is no decent Universal Service Obligation (USO), thanks to ComReg. In fact, in terms of Internet access, it was better (consumer was guaranteed more) 5 years ago than it is today.
So with their deliberate spin, their pathetic excuses, their blatantly anti-competitive practices, their asset stripping, their poor customer services standards, and their dire network, should we hand over the money? Under current circumstances, hell no!
There is some logic in Government financing for some verifiable results. Such as “100% of people connected to an exchange within 6KM should be able to avail of a minimum of 512Kbps DSL service” clauses, or “our financing must be met equally, and be exclusively for the last number of exchanges”, or “if you get 90% population coverage, like you sometimes claim, then we’ll talk money. Your actual 60% coverage doesn’t cut it”.
Would you give financing to a company who reckon it’s got all bar <10% of people covered money, where the reality is best described in the following picture, without some very aggressive conditions?