Several alternative operators in Ireland have urged the incumbent eircom to improve the state of repair of the existing copper-wire PSTN, particularly in provincial towns and regions, before embarking on an ambitious plan to roll out a fibre-optic next-generation network (NGN). Online news journal siliconrepublic.com reports that some bemoan the poor state of parts of the network which they argue has been ‘crippled by under-investment and dogged by capacity issues’. BT Ireland believes that eircom plans to concentrate its efforts on NGN in Dublin and its environs where it competes with UPC Ireland. However, BT Ireland’s COO Mike Maloney says the problems of the ‘last mile’ in provincial areas ‘hasn’t gone away’. ‘For the rest of the country the copper network is in a huge state of disrepair and it means that if you can’t get broadband today, unless something is done to fix the copper network you won’t be getting broadband any time soon,’ Maloney says. BT Ireland estimates it could cost up to EUR300 million to put right the existing infrastructure and says this should be done before investment beings on the NGN. Others, such as emerging data services company Strencom, argue that under capacity – even in the larger cities – means that 30% of its customers are unable to get broadband at all. It says that capacity on the actual Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexers (DSLAMs) is too low and customers looking for a connection might have to wait a very long time.