Ireland’s fixed line incumbent eircom has revealed plans designed to improve broadband availability and increase take-up in the Republic. The operator intends to upgrade an additional 100 local exchanges with broadband capability by 2007, and has pledged to support all broadband inquiries and orders placed in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway. A further 120,000 phone lines will be able to support broadband as a result of the move, eircom said.
The former monopoly is also planning to deploy WiMAX technology in 2007 to supplement its DSL coverage in five urban population centres. eircom CEO Rex Comb says the measures will enable it to complete the ‘commercial and cost effective rollout of broadband in Ireland’, although its critics argue that eircom’s sudden enthusiasm for WiMAX is a tacit admission of its failure to deliver high speed internet access over more traditional access platforms. The consumer lobby group IrelandOffline welcomed the initiative, albeit with the rider: ‘we especially welcome eircom’s use of their wireless licence which has been unused for the past number of years, but we ask that they allow rural communities to reuse eircom spectrum in areas where eircom will not be rolling out broadband.’ The association of alternative licensed operators, Alto, echoed IrelandOffline, calling on eircom to allow other operators to use its networks to reach remote areas.