According to Internet Magazine, the Irish are notably trailing the rest of Europe when it comes to broadband Internet access. Currently only 1 percent of Irish homes have broadband access and just 30 percent have any form of Internet connection at all.
Until June, Irish Internet users had to subscribe to pay-per-minute Internet packages, but this finally changed when pressure from the government and private campaigners forced Eircom to offer consumers a wholesale flat rate.
The latest announcements come in the light of a recent public airing of consumer dissatisfaction with Eircom’s recent broadband advertising campaign. Last month the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland confirmed that it had received an “exceptionally high number of complaints” about the way Eircom had been advertising I-stream, its Irish broadband service. Consumers claimed that the language the company used to describe its product was misleading.
The first complaint, which was upheld by the ASAI, suggested that the statement “surf as long as you like, for a flat monthly fee” was misleading since the product was subject to a download cap of 4GB before extra charges incurred. In response to this, Eircom said that it did not believe that the download cap had a material effect on the product offer.
The second criticism addressed Eircom’s advertised claim that the price of broadband had been reduced by 50 percent. Consumers noted that the new version, I-stream Starter, was a slower version than the original product priced at the higher I-stream rate. Eircom argued that I-stream Starter was a part of the company’s broadband range and therefore its statement was not misleading. The ASAI complaints committee disagreed and upheld the complaint.
The third criticism concerned the absence of information about non-optional costs. In response to this Eircom has now amended its television advertisements to say: “Connection charges and Terms and Conditions apply.”
Eircom argued that the complexity of the I-stream broadband service made it impossible to cover all of its features in one advertisement, underlining that the company consistently encouraged users to find more information at their web site, in their brochures and by contacting Eircom directly. The ASAI acknowledged these difficulties but nonetheless said that many I-stream broadband assertions were misleading.
On Monday, RTE announced that shareholders in Eircom, including Tony O’Reilly, will share in a