Consumers pay highest broadband rates in EU

HARD-PRESSED consumers have received further bad news with confirmation that Ireland has the most expensive broadband packages in Europe.

A survey has highlighted how the average monthly broadband fee for a 2Mb-8Mb speed band here is over €70 — more than twice the EU average of €34.10.

The results are contained in the European Broadband Tariffs Database which attributed the high price of broadband services in Ireland to the cost of bandwidth.

However, most broadband packages are capped and cost on average €33.80 per month, although prices for 2Mb-8Mb connection rates are typically more than double such packages.

According to Ireland Offline, an IT consumer advocacy group, Irish consumers also pay the highest line rental charges in the world before they even sign up for a broadband connection.

The group also expressed concern that Ireland will have the highest minimum call charges in Europe following Eircom’s plans to raise such charges to 9.5 cent per call for out-of-bundle calls from next month.

Ireland Offline claimed the high cost of accessing broadband represented a serious indictment of government policy and of regulation here in Ireland.

“It clearly shows we need dramatic and new thinking if we are ever to be near ‘top of the class’ in broadband pricing and supply,” said the group’s spokesman, Eamonn Wallace.

He also criticised the industry regulator, ComReg for allowing such high charges to prevail and accused it of hiding the high rate of minimum call charges by the method which ComReg itself calculated such prices.

Mr Wallace said the survey’s results demonstrated “the complete and utter failure of successive ministers and of ComReg to promote effective and consumer-centred competition in the Irish marketplace”.

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