Figures published by the Irish telecoms regulator ComReg show that the Republic was home to close to a million broadband users, including mobile broadband, at the end of March, a penetration rate of 22.9%. At that date Ireland had a total of 991,970 high speed internet users, or 805,932 subscriptions excluding those registered with one of the country’s mobile operators. DSL accounted for 586,989 (59%) of the total and cable broadband users increased 7.5% in the period under review (and 37.6% year-on-year) to claim 88,647 subscribers by 1 April. ComReg reports that mobile broadband was the largest contributor to new broadband growth in the first quarter though, with over 58,000 net new customers added, followed by DSL, which gained around 37,000 customers.
Former fixed line monopoly eircom saw its share of the broadband market fall again. At the end of March it controlled 41.4% of retail broadband users, down from 54.2% at the start of 2006, while DSL provided by other alternative operators (OAOs) using either bitstream or LLU now represents 18.3% of the total market. The remaining 40.3% was held by operators on alternative broadband platforms including cable broadband, fixed wireless, fibre, satellite and mobile broadband. eircom has also seen its share of the fixed line segment drop. According to ComReg’s estimates, the incumbent now holds 68% of that market, down two percentage points on the first quarter of 2007 and 69% at the end of 2007.
The total number of 2G and 3G mobile subscriptions reached 5.4 million at end-March, up 278,000 on the previous quarter, a cellular penetration rate of 121%. Vodafone Ireland continues to lead the way with a market share of 43.4%, ahead of O2 Ireland with 31.9%, Meteor Mobile (18.7%) and 3 Ireland (6%).