Broadband still ‘pie in the sky’ for many rural dwellers

Broadband remains “pie in the sky” for many people in rural Ireland with less than 60% enjoying a high-speed service.

Significant differences in broadband availability between urban and rural areas were highlighted in a survey by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).

Almost three quarters (73%) of people living in built-up areas have fixed broadband, compared to 58% of rural residents.

ComReg’s 2017 Communicates Survey

shows most SMEs (95%) have online services available, but less than half trade online. Trading online is more common in the services and retail sectors.

Around one in six (16%) consumers are likely to switch their existing telecommunications bundle from one provider to another over the next 12 months, and 38% expect to make a cost saving of over 5%.

While instant messaging apps have reduced the use of SMS services, they have not replaced them. Almost a third (31%) of those using apps still send the same number of text messages.

Meanwhile, half of the households in rural areas rely on Saorview, the national digital terrestrial television service in Ireland, compared with just a quarter in urban centres.

More than two out of every five households use Netflix but 95% of those with streaming services say they still watch live TV, with 44% disclosing live TV viewing has remained unchanged.

Consumers, however, expect their use of smart technologies to rapidly increase. To date, 29% of households have a smart TV, and many others (56%) expect to own one in five years’ time.

Most consumers know EU roaming charges have ended and 78% of the 1,500 surveyed are now more likely to roam in another EU country.

Some consumers still use traditional communication methods. In the six months prior to the survey, 3% used a public phone box while17% used a printed telephone book and 15% sent or received a fax.

Facebook is the most popular social media platform for SMEs — 60% have a Facebook account and about one third use LinkedIn or Twitter.

Bundling of services has increased over the last five years, with 67% indicating that they bundle two or more services together. This practice has increased from just over half of SMEs in 2013.

SMEs are also moving away from traditional telephony. While 70% of SMEs never use voice over internet protocol — a technology that delivers voice communication and multimedia sessions, one in 10 uses it once a week.

In the six months prior to the survey last November /December, 12% of SMEs used a printed telephone book and 28% sent or received a fax.

Meanwhile, the survey also showed ownership of petrol or diesel cars is expected to fall from 84% to 72%, with a growing preference for hybrid, fully electric and autonomous vehicles.


Lifestyle

Lacemakers in Limerick want to preserve their unique craft for future generations and hope to gain UNESCO heritage status, writes Ellie O’Byrne.Made in Munster: Lace-making a labour of love rather than laborious industry

More From The Irish Examiner