With almost 84,000 new broadband subscriptions in the first quarter of 2007, the number of high speed users in the Republic of Ireland has exceeded narrowband dial-up users for the first time. There were 602,000 broadband users at the end of March says the industry regulator, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), which claims that the period saw the highest number of new subscriptions since broadband was first launched in 2002. By the start of April broadband accounted for 58% of a total 1.046 million active internet connections, a broadband penetration rate of more than 14%. The regulator estimates that the Republic was home to approximately 450,000 residential broadband connections by end-March, equivalent to 30% of Irish households – up from 25.4% in the previous quarter.
The most popular access technology continues to be DSL which accounted for 72% of connections at the end of the first quarter, with cable, wireless and other platforms accounting for the remaining 28%. Former monopoly eircom managed to retain a 66% share of all subscriptions at the end of March, unchanged on the previous quarter, although its overall share was down 7% year-on-year.
Revenues from electronic communications and services reached EUR1.12 billion in Q1 2007, with fixed line services accounting for 51.7% of the total, compared with 50.3% in Q4 2006. By contrast, mobile revenues dipped from 45.5% in the fourth quarter of 2006, down to 44.1%. Nevertheless, cellular penetration rates continue to climb, reaching 112% at the end of March. There were a total of 4.7 million 2G and 3G users at that date ComReg said, of whom around three-quarters are pre-paid users. The total number of SMS messages sent by mobile users reached 1.78 billion in Q1 while the volume of mobile voice minutes topped the two billion mark. In addition, a total of 7.8 million MMS messages were sent during the period under review, the watchdog said.