Ireland’s national telecoms regulator, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), yesterday released its quarterly report on developments in the local market, for the three months ended 31 December 2011. The watchdog said total electronic communications revenues reached EU958.9 million (USD1.28 billion) in the October-December quarter, a marginal 0.2% increase quarter-on-quarter, although total voice traffic (fixed and mobile) declined by 0.2% q-o-q to approximately 4.39 billion voice minutes in Q4. Within this figure, mobile voice traffic rose by 0.5% on a quarterly basis, but fell 1.6% y-o-y, while fixed voice minutes dipped by 1.4% q-o-q and by 14.7% on an annualised basis. The total number of narrowband copper fixed access paths (PSTN and ISDN) – direct and indirect accesses – totalled just over 1.76 million connections at the end of 2011, it added.
ComReg reported a total of more than 1.688 million internet subscriptions (broadband and dial-up) at the end of 2011, with gains from cable modem-based lines (+5.8%), fibre/satellite (+5.2%) and DSL (+0.4%), which offset a fall in subscriptions of fixed wireless access (FWA, -7.1%) and narrowband subscriptions (-13.9%). Mobile broadband subscriptions were relatively unchanged from the third quarter of the year at 593,438. By the start of 2012 ComReg estimated that fixed broadband per capita penetration rate reached 23.4%. The total broadband per capita penetration rate (including mobile broadband) was 36.3%. The regulator also noted a rise in both Wi-Fi hotspots and minutes in 4Q11. Although the number of active hotspots is still lower than that for end-10, ComReg reported a 44.7% increase in availability between the third and fourth quarter of last year, while minutes of use surged by 60% between end-10 and end-11. The watchdog attributes the increase in Wi-Fi traffic to ‘increasing adoption of smartphone and tablet devices among Irish consumers’. Approximately 42.7% of all mobile subscriptions in the Republic were active smartphone and/or tablet users in Q4 2011 up from 38.7% quarter-on-quarter. Furthermore, the industry regulator said that total mobile subscriptions (including mobile broadband) stood at 5.499 million at the end of last year, up from 5.473 million the previous quarter.