Irish fixed line incumbent eircom lost a 7% share in the wireline market in 2006, its biggest year-on-year fall since the sector was deregulated, reports ComReg. By the start of this year eircom controlled 71% of the EUR556 million revenue-based fixed line segment, as increased competition from the likes of BT Ireland, TalkTalk and Perlico continued to bite. Previous yearly falls for the former monopoly have averaged between 2% and 3%.
In the broadband market, ComReg reports that 50.1% of Ireland’s 1.036 million active internet subscriptions are now connected by broadband. Overall high speed internet subscriptions exceeded 517,000 by December 2006, with more than 80,000 net additions recorded in the fourth quarter alone. Of the total, 73% are connected by DSL lines, with nearly a third of these delivered by operators reselling eircom’s bitstream DSL service, and just over half of all broadband subscriptions delivered by operators other than eircom. Although DSL dominates the market, the rise of wireless alternatives has increased steadily since 2004, while ComReg’s report notes that satellite and fibre-based technologies are also beginning to have an impact, accounting for 27% of the total. By the end of the year broadband penetration stood at 12.2%, up from 10.4% in September.
On a less positive note, the regulator pointed to the lack of ‘robust and efficient’ local loop unbundling (LLU), where eircom is accused of continuing to hamper investment. 19,500 local loops were unbundled in the fourth quarter, a 2% drop on the previous quarter.