A report published yesterday by Ireland’s telecoms watchdog the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) shows that while former monopoly eircom may be losing ground in the internet access segment, it still controls a 78% share of the residential telephony market despite nine years of competition. The regulator’s ‘Consumer ICT Services Survey Q4 2007’ shows that eircom far and away outstripped its closest rival Perlico, the company recently acquired by Vodafone, which had 7% of the residential telephony market by subscribers, based on the survey conducted by Millward Brown IMS. Third place was taken by BT Ireland (5%), followed by TalkTalk/Tele2 (2%), Imagine Group (2%), ntl/UPC (1%), Magnet (1%), others (2%) and don’t knows (2%). The report also revealed that the percentage of homes in the Republic with a fixed line is falling: in 2000 more than four-fifths of households reported having a landline, but this figure has now dropped to around 68%. Over the same period, the proportion on people (15yrs-74yrs) owning a cellphone has climbed from 40% to 90%, with even higher rates of ownership for all adults under the age of 50. Pre-paid ownership accounted for 76% of users in 4Q07, down two percentage points in the year.
In the internet sector a slightly different picture emerges. According to data published in ComReg’s Trends Series Survey, the incumbent’s share of the market fell sharply in 2007, while alternative operators such as BT Ireland, Irish Broadband, Perlico and Clearwire made gains. At 31 December 2007 eircom’s internet products were being taken by 57% of users, down from 78% a year earlier and 81% in the second quarter of 2006. The beneficiaries of eircom’s declining market share include Irish Broadband which doubled its own share to 8%, making it the second most popular ISP in the country. Perlico also doubled its share from 3% to 6%, while BT Ireland went one better, upping its share from 3% to 7% in 2007. Meanwhile, the cable operator UPC (formerly ntl/Chorus) boosted its own position by a percentage point to 3%. eircom’s dominance was hardest hit in the capital Dublin, where Millward Brown’s survey found that only 40% of home users subscribe to its ISP, compared to Irish Broadband’s 17%.