Researching Broadband Internet Services Available to SMEs In Ireland Alison Keegan
Dun Laoghaire Broadband Service Broadband is a fast, permanent internet connection. Typically it can be up to 100 times faster than a dial-up connection. Broadband will not tie up your phone line, therefore you can make and receive calls whilst browsing the web. Dun Laoghaire is a densely populated residential area in South Dublin with a number of broadband options available to consumers. There are 30 different packages available from 7 providers. Dun Laoghaire has a population of 23,857 (2006) in comparison to the most densely populated sub-urban area of Dublin, Tallaght, with a population of 92,300 (2006). Tallaght boasts 43 different broadband packages available from 8 providers, which considering the population difference is not that impressive. Dun Laoghaire is well connected and both consumers and SMEs have numerous choices when it comes to picking broadband providers. I will explore these choices taking speed and cost into account within this presentation.
Glossary of Terms Coaxial Cable A cable consisting of a conducting outer metal tube that encloses and is insulated from a central conducting core, used primarily for the transmission of high-frequency signals. Always-on There is no need to dial up, no busy tones and no disconnections. As it implies, your Internet connection will be “Always-on” Internet Service Provider (ISP) A company that offers its customers access to the Internet. Download Capacity Some broadband packages have a download capacity. This will determine in gigabytes the amount of files that you can upload and download each month. Some of your download capacity is used by just looking at web pages and sending emails, but a lot more is taken up if you prefer to download large files. Many broadband providers give you an unlimited download capacity so if you use the Internet all the time it is recommended that you avail of unlimited download capacity.
Glossary of Terms Download Speed Download speed refers to how quickly a file can be downloaded from a remote source. When you download something (usually via the Internet), it means you can obtain an image, song, video, etc. on your personal computer. The download speed is measured by the amount of the file transferred over to you in a certain amount of time. Generally download speeds are measured in kb/s, meaning kilobytes per second Upload Speed Upload speed refers to the rate that information is transferred from the Internet to your computer. If you attach a file to an email it means that you are uploading information to the Internet. If your upload speed is 256kb/s, which is standard for 3mb download speed connection, and you attach a file that is 32kb, it will take you one second to attach the file. Contention Ratio The contention ratio is a measure of the quality of service you can expect. Contention measures the maximum number of individuals that will use the Internet at any one time using the same access pipe. A contention ratio of 4:1 means that up to 4 customers are sharing the same connection. The quality of your Internet connection can deteriorate if too many customers use the connection at the same time.
Connection Types- Mobile Broadband Mobile broadband is a new technology that involves you to connect a small portable modem known as a dongle, to your laptop or other portable device. These portable modems pick up broadband signals that are transmitted across the skies through the mobile phone’s Network. The market is largely dominated by mobile phone networks; O2, 3, Vodafone and Meteor. Advantages You don’t have to pay for a landline. Broadband access where there are no standard broadband connections. You can use it on the move, virtually anywhere. Software needed to connect to the Internet is automatically installed when you first plug your usb stick into your laptop. Disadvantages Standard broadband may be cheaper than mobile. The speed you get from mobile broadband may not be as good as standard broadband. The download and usage limits for mobile broadband can be quite restrictive, therefore it is not recommended for heavy Internet users.
Connection Types- ADSL Broadband ADSL broadband, or Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line is most common type of broadband because it uses a standard phone line. It means that by converting your analogue phone line to a digital (ASDL) line, you can use your phone to simultaneously transmit data at a high speed. Advantages Splits your line in two so you can make and receive calls while online. Faster and more reliable compared to other connection types. ADSL is generally “always-on” meaning that most providers charge a flat rate so you can be online as often as you like without paying extra. Disadvantages Downloads faster than uploads. You must have a traditional phone line. You can only access the Internet from a fixed point in your property. ADSL is affected by the amount of people using your line. At busy times, you may notice a slowdown.
Connection Types- Wireless Broadband Wireless broadband is broadband that you can connect to from a device, generally laptops, that has an internal modem. Wireless broadband must be set up be it in your home or office or in an area that has wireless broadband transmitted through a router. These areas are commonly known as Wi-Fi hotspots. Advantages Allows you to have an Internet connection without physically being connected to your Internet Service Provider. You can share it between multiple computers simultaneously. You do not have to be in a settled position or on an non-portable PC. Disadvantages There may be multiple users trying to access the same connection, making it slower. Performance speed differs from how close or far you are from the router. Older laptops may not be Wi-Fi compatible.
Connection Types- Cable Broadband Cable broadband is a form of Internet access that uses the cable television infrastructure by taking advantage of unused bandwidth on the network. To receive cable broadband, you must live in an area that is served by cable. You do not need a phone line. Advantages The cable network uses optical fibres which is ideal for the fast transmission of data, your connection is generally faster and more reliable. Bundling options i.e. telephone, broadband and television are generally available form cable broadband providers and usually mean you save money as it is a bundle. Disadvantages Broadband only deals through cable providers often work out more expensive than ADSL due to the connection type being less common than a household line.
Company’s Providing Broadband In Dun Laoghaire
What Type of Telecommunications Company Are They? Irish Broadband: Always on Broadband Eircom: Broadband, Home Phone, Mobile Broadband, Eircom Broadband Talk Strencom: Broadband, Networking Solutions, Hosting Perlico: Always on Broadband, 3G Mobile Broadband, Home Phone Provider Imagine: WiMax Broadband, Home Phone, Mobile Broadband Digiweb: Broadband, Home Phone, Hosting Chorus NTL: Fibre Cable Broadband, Home Phone and TV
What Type of Telecommunications Company Are They? Irish Broadband: Irish Broadband is a subsidiary of NTR and provides always on broadband for home and business. Eircom: Eircom is Ireland’s largest telecommunications provider and provides broadband and telephone to both home and business. Strencom: Strencom offers a complete networking solution for corporate clients of all sizes, they offer broadband and hosting for businesses only. Perlico: Perlico is a subsidiary of Vodafone and offers always on broadband, 3G mobile broadband and home telephone. Imagine: Imagine offers a wireless, digital communications system that is intended for wireless "metropolitan area networks“. Services provided are broadband, telephone and mobile broadband for home and business Digiweb: Digiweb is Ireland’s leading independent telecommunications company. They offer broadband and home phone. Chorus NTL: Provide a range of fibre optic cable packages for home and business.
What Type of Telecommunications Company Are They? Irish Broadband: 3 Packages Eircom: 3 Packages Strencom: 4 Packages Perlico: 4 Packages Imagine (WiMax): 4 Packages Digiweb: 9 Packages Chorus NTL: 3 Packages
Medium of Communication Used Irish Broadband is a telecommunications company in Ireland providing wireless broadband services. (3mb ADSL) They provide a range of wireless broadband services for business and residential customers including 4mb of symmetrical links (4:1 contention ratio). Services are provided to their customers by means of transmitters located on high buildings or hills. These transmitters are located in main cities across Ireland, providing local services in urban areas. They offer 3 services. Breeze: Irish broadband wireless service, providing 2mb, 3mb and 4mb speeds. ADSL: Irish broadband and Imagine resell ADSL connectivity on the Eircom Bitstream Network, allowing them speeds of up to 12mb Ripwave: “Broadband in a box”, providing speeds of 1mb and 2mb.
Eircom provides a range of DSL broadband services as well as mobile broadband, broadband talk and home phone. In 2006, 370,000 customers were using Eircom broadband, 260,000 on DSL and the remaining customers on a mix of FWA, cable and satellite. On 1st November 2007, Eircom announced their 500,000th DSL customer Eircom has introduced its new VoIP service broadband talk. VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol and allows you to make voice calls using your broadband Internet connection.
Strencom Broadband provides the customer with both a data connection and a phone connection on the same copper pair/existing telephone line. There are several types of DSL technology. Strencom provides ADSL and Rate Adaptive DSL. Strencom provides fast, always on connection to the Internet. Strencom is suitable for businesses who wish to have a fast data connection to the Internet in their premises
Imagine offer a range of DSL broadband services as well as wireless broadband, home phone and mobile broadband. (3mb ADSL) Imagine has a number of strategically placed high-sites which allows customers to connect to the Imagine network using a radio unit linked to the roof mounted antenna. This equipment will link the user to the nearest Imagine base station. Connection is generally available within 5km of each high site.
UPC Communications Ireland Limited, which trades primarily under the name Chorus NTL is Liberty Global Europe’s operation in Ireland. They provide a range of Broadband packages using fibre optic cable with speeds of up to 30mb. Through the use of a cable modem, you can access a fibre power broadband Internet connection that is designed to work over a fibre optic network. Because coaxial cable is used, the technology can provide greater bandwidth than telephone lines and significantly faster access to the Internet than DSL providers who provide their service over copper pairs.
Perlico offer a range of broadband packages such as; Always on Broadband, 3G Mobile Broadband and also Home Phone. Perlico supply fixed line DSL broadband over an analogue connection. Perlico broadband gives you the chance to surf the web at speed forty times faster than dial-up.
Digiweb provide wireless broadband packages, DSL broadband packages and satellite broadband packages where no telephone line is required. Digiweb have a choice of 9 different packages suitable for customers. Digiweb satellite is suitable for a small to medium sized office as it is high speed and also allows faster downloads and uploads than their other packages.
My Options as an SME Irish Broadband Breeze 4mb Wireless Imagine WiMax 3mb ADSL Eircom 3mb Home Plus Chorus NTL Fibre Power Broadband 5mb
Package: Breeze 4mb Wireless Costs: Broadband - €55.00 Line Rental - €0.00 Total Per Month - €55.00 Installation Fee - €100.00 Tech Specifications: Download Speed - 4Mbps Upload Speed - 4Mbps Contention Ratio - 24:1 Connection Type - Wireless Download Capacity - Unlimited
Package: 3mb ADSL (Includes Phone Service) Costs: Broadband and Phone - €40.00 Line Rental - €0.00 Total Per Month - €40.00 Installation Fee - €50.00 Tech Specifications: Download Speed - 3Mbps Upload Speed – 256kbs Contention Ratio - 48:1 Connection Type - ADSL Download Capacity - Unlimited
Package: Eircom 3mb Home Plus (Includes Phone Service) Costs: Broadband - €29.99 Line Rental - €25.36 Total Per Month - €54.17 Installation Fee - €30.11 Tech Specifications: Download Speed - 3Mbps Upload Speed – 256kbps Contention Ratio - 48:1 Connection Type - ADSL Download Capacity – 30GB
Package: Chorus NTL Fibre Power Broadband 5mb Costs: Broadband - €22.00 Line Rental - €0.00 Total Per Month - €22.00 Installation Fee - €0.00 Tech Specifications: Download Speed – 5 Mbps Upload Speed – 512 kbps Contention Ratio – 17:1 Connection Type - Cable Download Capacity – N/A
Which would I choose as an SME? Upon reflection of all of the broadband packages I have looked at, I feel that Chorus NTL Fibre Powered broadband would best suit my needs. Firstly, It gives me higher download speed than all of the other packages. It is significantly cheaper than all of the other packages I have looked at. Because coaxial cable is used, it means that I can upgrade to speeds of up to 30mb should I want to. These types of speeds are currently unavailable from the other Internet Service Providers. I have called the chorus NTL support line whilst doing my research and straight away I was put through to a service operator. This is essential for an SME as time can be extremely important and waiting on hold can be extremely stressful. Chorus NTL provide 24hr online support to customer and you can call them up until 10pm at night. It has the lowest contention ration of the four at 17:1.
Reflection I think it is fair to say that Ireland is still finding its feet in terms of faster and better ways to connect to the Internet. As you can see from my findings, there are many Internet Service Providers with extremely competitive packages to suit the needs of businesses of all sizes. It is safe to assume that the next few years will bring about more competition in this market and therefore drive these current prices down.