How broad is your band?

I know I just shouldn’t read things like this – it’s not going to help anything, but it just highlights the appalling state of things here in Ireland.

Pretty much the fastest consumer broadband in the world is the 160-megabit-per-second service offered by J:Com, the largest cable company in Japan. Here’s how much the company had to invest to upgrade its network to provide that speed: $20 per home passed.

via World’s Fastest Broadband at $20 Per Home – New York Times

The article is primarily concerned with the cost of setting up these networks, so in the case of Japan they’re spending $20 to sort out each customer’s upgrade. The consumer end is obviously a little different and here’s some sample prices:

In Japan, its 160 Mbps service costs 6,000 yen ($60) per month. That’s only $5 a month more than the price of its basic 30 Mbps service. In the Netherlands, meanwhile, it charges 80 euros ($107) for 120 Mbps service and 60 euros ($81) for 60 Mbps.

We pay around €90 a month for a 2Mbps synchronous DSL connection with Arden Brisknet. Their service has been good, their engineers are responsive and friendly, and it seems like a delight after a miserable stint with the incomparably shit Last Mile Broadband.

Still, I remember when I lived in Toronto back in 2001, I had a 1Mbps DSL line. Now, 8 years on, I’ve got twice that speed for probably 3 times the price. How retarded is that. Of course over those 8 years, whilst the rest of the developed world has been slowly ramping up it’s broadband speeds and Ireland appears to be completely dragging its heels, web sites are increasingly being designed to take advantage of these high speed connections. Why give the vast majority of your customers a lesser experience just to make things bearable for those poorly connected paddies? Websites have much improved functionality relying on more complicated scripting and flash interactivity, and when it comes to video sharing sites, that’s where you really start to feel the pinch.

Whilst a connection such as ours performs fine on low-resolution YouTube videos, there is a limit to how many super-compressed videos your eyes can accept. Also, many video sites (such as vimeo.com) are now offering “High Definition” video streaming, and buffering a HD video on a 2Mb connection brings back memories of loading a website on dial up – you may as well go and make a cup of tea.

Ah yeah, but you’re a hermit

That’s right, I live in the middle of nowhere in Longford, surrounded by bog and rocky fields – sure what right do I have to complain? I’d like to point out that the situation in Dublin really isn’t that much better. Our nation’s capital has a much wider range of service providers, but if you look at the average connections, prices, and speeds, the story doesn’t really get any better.

Looking over pricing comparisons for broadband in Ranelagh, Dublin, GetBroadband reports that your basic starter package with Eircom comes in at €25 per month and gives you a whopping 1Mbps/128Kbps. Move to Holland, pay 3 times that amount and you would get 120 times the speed. Um, is it just me or is something not adding up.

Interested in a more similar price comparison? Sure, get Digiweb’s “DSL-Pro” which costs €96 per month and you get the incredible 4Mbps/384Kbps. Nice. Holland anyone?

Asynchronism and it’s relationship with retardation

The absolute worst thing is the prevalence of “Asynchronous DSL”, the inventor of which should be battered round the head with a frying pan. On average the connections in Dublin come in with a download/upload ratio of 10:1, although in some cases it gets much worse, such as Imagine’s package which offers 7.6Mbps/384Kbps – a ratio of 20:1.

Service providers prey on the fact that people don’t realise that the internet is a two-way street. Those people with shitty 128Kbps upload speeds have so little bandwidth available that any increased activity involving their upstream is going to destroy their ability to responsively browse the net. Seriously, who needs their experience crippled because their data upload seems as though it would be faster being transported on a cart by a 3-legged donkey guided by a blind man who’s in a bad mood because his wife ran away with the milkman.

Running a web design company, I obviously have slightly higher requirements that the normal consumer and frequently need to upload large quantities of data, but this is the thing: businesses around Ireland are suffering and losing valuable time by having to deal with the poor connectivity that exists around the country.

So, whilst there are slightly faster net connections available in Dublin, they come at a price, and invariably with an awful upload speed. Coupled with this you get the fact that service providers pack their lines with too many customers resulting in awful contention ratios and, well I can’t put it any better than my good friend Unkie Dave, who I believe is on Eircom’s 7Mbps connection (unless they downgraded due to the complete shittiness of said “7Mbps” connection):

..which on a good day can puff its way up with a full head of steam to almost 1.5Mbps, before collapsing from the effort by 4pm and hovering around 450kbps for the rest of the day, wheezing like an emphysemic seventy-year old that still insists on taking a last drag on their John Player Blue before collapsing on the couch for a bit of a lie down in front of the telly..

What the fuck is the story? Can someone please sort this shit out before we get left behind in a world increasingly reliant on the internet for all forms of business.

Comments

  • I can't agree more. However, I would like to point out that the infrastructure is available. The optic fibre runs along every major road and 'highway' in Ireland.The metropolitan area networks are in place. Most of the fibre is 'dark'. Meaning that it's not even being used. The cost of gaining access is a major barrier.

    The 'stack them high sell it cheap' approach isn't in the minds of business people in Ireland. It's like having a 6 lane motorway and not allowing anyone to drive on it unless they pay a massive toll. They'd rather see it go idle…

    Certain telcos in Ireland were still offering 56K dialup billed by the minute not so long ago. If they had their way, they'd still have you using dialup… to pay back for the huge investment (the tax payers shelled out for) installing all the copper many years ago. (P&T)

    It's funny how you should mention the music industry… Broadband in Ireland reminds me of CDs. The music industry wants to squeeze every cent they can out of selling a dead format…certain Telcos wish to maximize a gigantic return on investment in ancient broadband equipment they bought in the early 90's.