Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (487)

Stephen Donnelly


487. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the quality of broadband services in the EU report carried out for the European Commission by SamKnows Limited, which revealed that Irish broadband users receive only 84.7% of the advertised download speed and 72.5% of the advertised upload speed; if the situation has changed since the report was issued; if not, if he intends to address false advertising of upload and download speeds in the broadband sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32203/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The study undertaken as part of the EU Commission report was competed in March 2012. The report was published in June last. It compares marketed headline speeds for broadband services compared to the speeds experienced by users over cable, fibre and fixed lines in the EU 28, Iceland and Norway.

The comparison across the 30 countries surveyed demonstrates, as a general rule, a common practice of marketing a headline speed of “up to X Mbps”, as a maximum speed which customers can expect. The actual speed available varies for a number of reasons, including the amount of traffic online at any time, any consequential network congestion and distance from any individual premises to the nearest exchange. The actual speeds experienced can also vary depending on the manner in which connections are configured within customers’ premises.

The average download speed accessed in Ireland was above the EU average of 19.47 megabits per second (Mbps) or 74% of marketed speeds. The average upload speed available in Ireland was below the EU average of 6.2 Mbps or 88% of the marketed speeds. Since the survey was undertaken, UPC has rolled out download speeds up to 150 Mbps and upload speeds up to 10 Mbps across its network. More recently, eircom has launched broadband services to make download speeds up to 70 Mbps and upload speeds up to 20 Mbps accessible at 1.2 million premises by 2015. The speeds available in Ireland are therefore increasing since the survey was completed.

The marketing of broadband services in Ireland is governed by the law generally applicable to the sale of goods and services. There is no legislation specific to the marketing of broadband services. The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland, following consultations with the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), and the National Consumer Agency, published guidelines in 2008 on the marketing of broadband services which can be accessed on-line at http://www.asai.ie/documents/ASAI%20ADVICE%20NOTE%20ON%20BROADBAND.pdf. In addition, ComReg is concluding a procurement process to launch a Broadband Speed Information Initiative later this year, which will compile data in respect of actual broadband speeds being experienced by users compared to the speed advertised for individual broadband packages.