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THE provision of broadband may be one of this country’s biggest white elephants.
The problem with broadband is two-fold: The cost of broadband in our rip-off Republic is still making it unpalatable for a wide proportion of the population.
The retail expense of broadband is at least three times higher in the UK with only a handful of suppliers to choose from. The lowest pay-as-you-go broadband starts at €30 circa per month which is €360 annually if you want continuous use.
However, the quality may not always be there, in addition to “no service” at all on some occasions. Consumers may end up paying as much as €500 annually if high quality and faster equipment is desired, which is way out of whack with the rest of the EU that has put it in the reach of child with a piggy bank.
Broadband contracts are full of nasty pitfalls and conditions that are prejudiced against the customer in a large number of cases, so why has there been so much hype about broadband and support from the government?
These contracts tie the customer down with monthly instalments, even though pay-as-you-go customers are reaping benefits with extra flexibility and choice. Others have pay for expensive hardware on their computers that is now completely redundant and retarded which they are stuck with.
The second problem is the popularity of broadband, which is dubious. Libraries are not as full as they used to be and there is little difficulty getting access to a terminal, including peak-times on occasions.
There has been a noticeable drop-off in what is fast becoming an expensive novelty that is wearing thin. Internet cafés are also lonely places these days, and one can contrast the deluge of people a few years ago when a booking may have been required. Far more competition will be needed to ensure the long-term sustainability of broadband, otherwise the minority using it will continue to pay extortionate premiums.
We have torn up the roads and spent billions on it as a state to satisfy the EU, but unless more people use email and the price of going online drops, it may end up like our electronic voting machines.
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