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ComReg reports surging demand for mobile broadband

19 Mar 2008

The Irish telecoms regulator ComReg has published its quarterly report for the three months ended 31 December 2007 which shows that more than 128,000 people are now connected to a mobile broadband service provided by O2, Vodafone or 3. The figure was up 44%, or 39,000 subscribers, quarter-on-quarter and means that mobile broadband now accounts for approximately 14% of all high speed internet connections in the Republic. However, the watchdog warned that while mobile broadband has potential for future growth it is unlikely to become the dominant form of access in the future. ‘While many enthuse about the potential of mobile broadband, issues remain as to whether mobile broadband can oust its fixed counterpart,’ the regulator’s report said. ‘Secondly, with the threat of financial penalties for exceeding the monthly cap, consumers may receive unexpectedly large bills.’ Mobile operators typically charge an excess fee of EUR0.02 to EUR0.10 (USD0.03 to USD0.15) per megabyte for downloads made outside a user’s agreed monthly data allowance.

By the end of last year Ireland was home to 886,300 broadband subscribers – or 758,800 if mobile broadband figures are excluded. ComReg estimates that Irish broadband penetration, including mobile broadband, at the end of December 2007 was 20.54%. If mobile broadband is excluded, the broadband penetration rate was 17.58%. The total number of internet subscriptions stood at more than 1.2 million by the end of last year. At the same date the number of Wi-Fi access points had increased by 17% year-on-year, while mobile penetration had climbed to 116%, equivalent to five million registered cell phones. In 2007 as a whole, mobile users sent more than 7.5 billion text messages helping push total revenues for the communications market up to more than EUR4.5 billion, the ComReg report said.

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