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Consumer group warns about poor Internet usage figures.
IrelandOffline today expressed alarm at the growing digital divide in
Ireland after new ComReg statistics were released. The figures delivered by
ComReg  show that Internet use in Ireland has not increased in two
years, that the majority of people connect using dialup instead of
broadband and that ISDN usage is increasing rapidly when it should be
falling and being replaced with broadband.
Reacting to the figures, IrelandOffline Chairperson Damien Mulley
said: "These ComReg figures should start ringing alarm bells in the DCMNR.
That we have a digital divide is a given, but with only 37% of households
going online, a figure unchanged in two years,  this divide isn't
decreasing but rapidly turning into a chasm."
Turning to the ComReg fact that more than 7 out of 10 people don't use
broadband to access the Internet, Mulley added "Internet users in this
country want and need broadband but as we've been saying for the past
number of years, they simply cannot get it. It just isn't there for those
that want it and massaging availability figures doesn't help the end-user.
Results of our own survey of 1400 people will be published later this week
and the results show that there is an overwhelming demand for broadband
from those currently suffering dialup and ISDN Internet access."
The new ComReg figures also show a worrying trend that ISDN usage has
almost doubled since 2003. Spokesman Martin Harran stated "ISDN is a
totally outdated technology for Internet access, a technology created in
the 1970s. Even using two lines and paying double call rate, it is less
than one eight of the speed of common starting packages for broadband and
prohibitively expensive. The fact that more and more people are having to
turn to it in desperation shows amply both the desire for higher speed and
yet how unavailable it is for so many people."
These latest ComReg statistics come on the back of other ComReg, EU and
OECD figures showing Ireland has the highest mobile bills in the EU ,
the highest line rental in the EU,  the 4th highest landline bills in
the EU  and a miserable rate of broadband usage compared to the rest of
Commenting on all the recent reports on telecoms in Ireland, Mulley stated
"It's not as if there is anything magical about what has to be done to sort
out this mess - the path has already been clearly shown by so many other
countries in the EU. The Minister needs to give the regulator some teeth
and encourage them to use them and he needs to sign up to one the many
reports which recommend a National Broadband Plan. We need to take the
model of the National Roads Authority and apply it to broadband."
The IrelandOffline Survey of 1382 Internet users will be released on Wednesday.
** NOTES **
 http://www.comreg.ie/_fileupload/publications/ComReg0586a.pdf Pg 17
 http://www.comreg.ie/_fileupload/publications/ComReg03144d.pdf The
figure for Dec '03 shows 37% of all households have Internet Access.
 http://www.comreg.ie/_fileupload/publications/ComReg0573.pdf Mobile
monthly ARPU is 48. The EU average is 31. 17 per month higher for Irish
(Line rental details on page 15.)
 In the report we were 4th most expensive in the EU. The report can be
OECD Report for Dec 2004.
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Damien Mulley chairman at irelandoffline.org
John Timmons info at irelandoffline.org Mobile: 087 284 8079
IrelandOffline is a voluntary organisation consisting of home and business
Internet users unhappy with currently available Internet connectivity
products and services. Its brief is to campaign for the development of
flat-rate and high-speed Internet access services and to promote
innovation and competition in the Irish Internet marketplace. The group
currently represents over 2000 Internet users.
For more information on the organisation, please visit the IrelandOffline
website at <http://www.irelandoffline.org>http://www.irelandoffline.org