Ireland’s National Broadband Plan – firsthand

While I often talk about broadband in rural areas – mostly I live in metro areas; but last week I had an opportunity to live the life of beautiful scenery with limited broadband. I was in the West of Ireland for a week. My timing however was amazing – broadband came to town as I was there. Broadband Three was offering free month-long trials of their mobile broadband service. I know it’s a long way to Tipperary (or Cork as the case may be) but I thought folks back home might be interested for a couple of reasons.

Broadband Three is part of the Irish National Broadband Plan. It’s a commercial provider that is working on the National Broadband Scheme, which is funded by the Irish Government and European Union in association with the Department of Communication, Energy and Natural Resources. They are striving to serve hard to reach areas with mobile broadband. Broadband Three currently has 94 percent population coverage. (I don’t have geographic stats.)

It was interesting to see firsthand how this worked. They have a National Broadband Scheme Roadshow, which is really a van sort of thing with a computer hooked up to broadband. (Looked better than my description.) There were posters all over town announcing the arrival of broadband and giving times for the roadshow, which was located in the middle of the village. So I trekked up to check it out. The guy working told me that there were month-long free trials and I was welcome to give it a go. The monthly price is €19.99 – which is a bit more than $25; the cost of the modem was also €19.99. He said I’d see speeds of 5Mbps. If I like the service I contact them; if not there was a self-addressed stamped envelope to return the modem. (Seemed like a strange use of funds since it meant a lot of stamps that may not be used – but really it’s more of shift of funds from broadband to the post office.)

For comparison sake, I paid about €80 for my mobile modem for commercial mobile broadband in Dublin and pay about €19.99 on a pay-as-you-go monthly rate. (My regular mobile broadabnd didn’t work in Glengarriff, where we were staying.) So it seems that startup may be subsidized but otherwise the rate is on par with other providers.

So I was over the moon – but the service was very wonky. I never got close to 5Mbps. The connection dropped often; there were times I couldn’t connect at all. We were about a mile away from the village. I heard that the connection was better in the village but the woman I spoke with hit a high speed of 2 Mbps and didn’t time out as often but had timed out. She owned the local Internet Café and had apparently received calls from many folks in the area who had experience similar to mine. (She was not related to the new service – but was known as being tech savvy so you know how that goes.)

So there were some things I liked. I think the free trial is genius – especially when service is wonky because having tested it I might make the informed decision to take wonky over nothing; however if I paid for service and got wonky without the trial I’d complain. It seemed as if people were coming out to learn about the service; the van seemed to be pretty hopping – but it seemed like a pretty low key marketing plan; maybe they’ll follow up with more.

What I didn’t like was the wonky service – but again it was better than nothing.

This entry was posted in Building Broadband Tools, Policy, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

2 thoughts on “Ireland’s National Broadband Plan – firsthand

  1. Very nice posting. Yes, you can try on the new broadband providing 5Mbps. Even they are also giving free trial for three month. If you are happy on that three month, you can go it further. If not change to another broadband provider.

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