Irish telecoms market data

June 17th, 2008 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

The latest edition of Comreg’s Quarterly Report (pdf) is now available, and it’s got some interesting nuggets hidden in it. First, VoIP is now showing up in call volumes – although Comreg only tracks certain VoIP services, and not internet-based offerings such as Skype. There’s a suggestion in the report that substitution from Skype may be having a visible effect on the figures.

The report also includes information on broadband penetration, drawing on OECD figures. Here it’s interesting to note that Ireland has the third greatest increase in penetration in the past year, although penetration rates are still somewhat below the OECD average, at 18.1 subscriptions per hundred inhabitants, compared to an average of 20.0. A major limiting factor may well be that only 31% of copper lines are DSL enabled, as opposed to an EU average of 33%, and a high in the Netherlands of over 60%.

The OECD figures are for December 2007. Comreg has collected data for Q1 2008, and claims that penetration in Ireland is now 18.6, and 22.9 if mobile broadband is included (something not yet tracked by OECD, though seemingly it will soon be included in their comparisons). Of course, mobile and fixed line penetrations should be treated differently – a DSL line into a home can enable access by all members of a household, perhaps even simultaneously, while an internet-enabled mobile device is more likely to have a single user, and of course does not (usually?) allow simultaneous connection by multiple users.

I’m also unsure of the connection speeds offered on so-called ‘mobile broadband’ services. I do note that Comreg break out connection speeds, with their definition of broadband seemingly going as low as 144kbps (presumably high enough not to include ISDN, but low enough to catch everything above it). The number of subscribers on under 1Mbps, though, is low (3.7% of residential users, 4.8% of non-residential users) and most residential connections are split evenly between the 1-2Mbps and 2-10Mbps ranges. (Non-residential connections tend to be larger, with 27% in the 1-2Mbps range and 67.7% in the 2-10Mbps range.) For those interested in the relevant weightings, 76% of broadband connections are classed as ‘residential’, though the fact that this includes 100% of cable connections indicates there may be some shortcomings in the data.

Finally, the Comreg data indicates a drop in the number of Wifi Hotspots available in the country. The drop from Q4 ’07 to Q1 ’08 is 2.6%. The data for hotspots doesn’t go far enough back to have a year-on-year comparison, but they were collecting Wifi Access Point figures last year (1 Hotspot = 1 or more Access Points) and the Q4-Q1 drop is 4.8% and the Q1 ’07 to Q1 ’08 drop is 3%, indicating that this is a somewhat recent development.

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