Irish cable broadband provider UPC Ireland has announced it is boosting the maximum speed of its ‘beginner package’ to 120Mbps from 50Mbps, the Irish Independent reports. Commenting on the plan – which will help the Republic catapult itself up the European broadband league table – UPC vice president Mark Coan said: ‘It’s quite a big strategic move for us … but it’s based on a realistic assessment of ordinary people’s broadband needs. Overall, Irish internet traffic has grown 800% in the past four years and that’s going to continue.’
The cableco’s service upgrade will be available to a potential 700,000 households in cities and towns covered by UPC’s network, and comes in the wake of telco Eircom’s recent announcement that it intends to boost access speeds to over 70Mbps for 1.2 million homes and businesses in Ireland. UPC Ireland presently offers a tier-based tariff structure, with entry-level users paying EUR39 (USD52.8) per month for a 50Mbps connection. Under the plan, this maximum download speed will be upped to 120Mbps, it said. Meanwhile, the operator’s EUR59 per month 150Mbps tariff plan will be increased to 200Mbps, while minimum monthly data caps are being increased to 30GB to allow for subscribers downloading from sites such as Netflix.
Taken together, the upgrades will help to push Ireland higher up the table for average broadband access speeds. Currently, it lies in 15th place with an average connection speed of just 7Mbps. However, the two firms’ efforts will help redress a situation that has left some 400,000 homes across the country – mainly in rural areas – with just a basic internet access option. Despite this, the government is committed to delivering a fibre-based connection of at least 30Mbps to every home by the end of 2014. However, critics warn that its allocated fund of EUR175 million will fall far short of the amount required to do this.