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Last Updated: Friday, 27 June, 2003, 10:07 GMT 11:07 UK
Unmetered internet hits Ireland
Man adjusting time on a clock
Time is finally called on net clock-watching in Ireland
It has been a long wait but internet users in Ireland have finally got flat rate access.

The Republic of Ireland has been trailing behind the rest of Europe in the take-up of net services due in large part to the fact that people still had to pay per minute for dial-up internet access.

UTV Internet has become the first telecoms firm in Ireland to launch a flat rate internet service.

People can choose from two products - 30 hours unlimited surfing per month for 9.99 euros (6.80) or 180 hours for 24.95 euros (17).

Broadband problems

There are still serious problems with the availability of broadband and our emphasis will now switch to making it more widespread
David Long, Ireland Offline
Campaigns by net activists and pressure from government forced Ireland's incumbent telecoms firm Eircom to offer wholesale flat-rate to providers in Ireland.

It is expected to launch its own unmetered service in the next few weeks. A flurry of other unmetered services should follow.

Campaigners at lobby group Ireland Offline are delighted that flat-rate has finally hit Ireland.

"It has stopped the clock on internet access for users in Ireland. I am very happy," said David Long, chairman of Ireland Offline.

But the champagne will remain on ice for a little longer.

"There are still serious problems with the availability of broadband and our emphasis will now switch to making it more widespread," he added.

Ireland has 1,100 telephone exchanges but only 95 of these are equipped to supply fast net services.

Incentive to switch?

1% of Irish homes have broadband
On average 7% of European homes have broadband
30% of Irish homes have dial-up net services
On average 37% of European homes have dial-up access
According to Jupiter Research, only 1% of Irish homes have broadband, the lowest figure for any of the European countries that it tracks.

Ireland also lags behind when it comes to dial-up access with 30% of homes net-enabled compared to an average of 37% in the rest of Europe.

Mr Long is confident that the newly available unmetered services will kick-start fast net access as well.

"It will be a catalyst for operators to deliver broadband," he said.

But Ian Fogg, an analyst at Jupiter Research is not so sure.

"Normally those countries without a strong cheap unmetered product adopt broadband much quicker but in Ireland consumers simply haven't been offered it," he said.

With the new, cheaper dial-up services coming online, the incentive to upgrade to broadband might be removed.

"The really interesting question is whether the introduction of unmetered in Ireland will actually slow down the adoption of broadband even more?" he asked.

Ireland fights for cheap net access
14 Jan 03  |  Technology
Net protests mount in Ireland
04 Nov 02  |  Technology
Ireland ambitious for broadband
26 Oct 02  |  Technology

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