A couple of weeks back UPC sent a few teasers to the media saying they’d be making significant and strategic announcements on 5th May. They invited the press along to the Shelbourne Hotel for a briefing and revealed that Pat Rabbitte, the Minister for Communications, would also be attending.
UPC weren’t mucking about. Dana Strong, their new CEO, announced that as part of a new campaign starting on Monday next, they’d be offering a minimum 25Mb broadband download speed to new customers.
So why is that significant and why am I writing about it here?
Well, the message that UPC wants to get out to the populous (and the competition I’m sure) is that their entry-level broadband is now faster than best speeds offered by most other providers.
And here’s how: UPC owns their own network, but most broadband connections in Ireland are DSL, which runs over phone lines. Most broadband providers re-sell over the Eircom network. The Eircom network and equipment caps out at 24Mb.
Now I don’t want to take away from a speed of 24Mb – it’s blisteringly fast if you can actually get it - but an entry level speed of 25Mb? That’s pretty significant considering that most other suppliers offer entry level products of 1 or 2Mb.
So what about the cost? Well, the 25Mb broadband product is going to cost €42.75 per month by itself, €42 per month* with a phone (and some talktime), and €60 if you take their basic TV with them as well. As a bundle it’s a terrific product, and even as a standalone it’s pretty decent too.
This does represent a bit of a price muddle though. Up ‘till now, you could get UPC broadband by itself without a phone for €32.75 per month. Sure, it was for a 10MB download speed and a 120GB per month usage allowance, but that’s actually a very decent product in the Irish marketplace.
Now your extra tenner will buy you two and a half times the speed and double the data, but there is no longer a low cost standalone broadband product available from UPC. But heck, there’s hardly a tethered low cost standalone broadband product available from anyone, especially when you consider that the cost of a plain DSL broadband bundle including line rental will set you back about €40 anway.
What UPC are doing though is upping their game and bringing it to the rest of the players in the marketplace, which is probably why Pat Rabbitte was at the press conference. UPC haven’t just rolled out a 25Mb broadband product, they are also bringing out 50 and 100Mb products too.
I don’t know what a 100Mb broadband connection is like. I’ve never experienced one. But think of it this way: if it can actually deliver 100Mb, you’ll be able to download a feature length movie in about a minute and the only thing slowing that down will be how fast the servers on the other end can dish it up. The cost? €72.75 on it’s own.
With about €400 million recently invested in infrastructure, it does look like UPC are here to stay and really mean business. Availability is of course limited by geography, but for those that can get their broadband products, they are definitely worth a look. They do want you to bundle though. Pesky Sky have been taking their TV customers away from them, and this is obviously part of the overall strategy to get them back and hold on to them.
UPC are also the only company that can bring all home communications together in one bundle. And €60 per month for TV, broadband and phone is a certainly a decent price for the lot.
UPC’s range of new products are set for release on Monday 9th May and you’ll be able to compare them here.
* that’s not a typo, their standalone product is €0.75 more expensive than broadband bundled with a phone.
Update 11th May 2011