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Irishfarmersjournal

Not the full package

TV, landline, mobile calls and broadband, all from one provider. Quad play is an easy sell, but what happens if one element of your package isnt up to scratch - Ciara Leahy.

The shrill dial-up internet tone is now almost an archaic sound, but still broadband continues to be a major issue for rural households across the country. At the moment, the National Broadband Plan is in the competitive stage.

So companies such as eir, SIRO, Imagine and e-Net are all working behind the scenes on their pitches to deliver broadband nationwide, as part of the government plan. The successful bidder will be announced towards the end of the year.

That's not the only broadband that's being rolled out, through. Operators are simultaneously pushing out their own commercial services to more towns across the country.

Bundling your bills

The broadband options that might have been available in your area two years ago maybe very different to what's there today. And with that, the prospect of bundling your bills through triple play or quad play may be a realistic option. This became clear two weeks ago, when Irish Country Living carried out a case study for a couple in west Limerick, who found that two companies-Sky and eir - were both offering them a triple play option. Both were much cheaper than their current bills. Presently, they have their line rental with eir (€20p/m), broadband and calls with IFATelecom (€60pm) and TV with Virgin (€20p/m), totalling €100 pm or €1,200 psa. By switchingtosky's triple play option, their first year would cost them £588 with Sky, nearly halving their bill.eir came in with an offering of €708 in year one, againsignificantly cheaper than their current option.

Reticent to switch

Despite this, though, they were still reticent to switch, and they aren't alone with this mind frame.

A good, reliable broadband connection seems to be the most important factor for consumers, rather than the triple play price. This is certainly reflected in the figures.

Simon Moynihan, communications director of Bonkers.ie says last year, when customers switched through Bonkers.ie, 64% were still choosing standalone broadband or broadband and phone packages. Nearly half (33%) were opting for triple packages. The remaining just switched their TV package.

A major factor that was holding our readers back from a triple play package was, what happens if something goes wrong? What if I opt for a Sky package but I'm not happy with the broadband elementor the phone connection is bad? Am I tied into a yearlong contract that I'm not happy with?

The Response

This was the scenario Irish Country Living put to the triple play and quad play providers and, as these companies are very serious about their contracts, you will have to prove there is a problem. eir says, "In the event that a customer experiences coverage or technical fault issues that impact on their quad play experience, eir will speak to technical support to try and resolve the issue, providing the customer the best possible solution. Ifitis a case that the issue cannot be resolved, eir will cancel the service with no early cease charges." Sky indicates that if you choose to stop receiving a service within the contract, you " may have to pay an early termination charge". "However, in the scenario you have described, early termination charges would not apply if the service issues are ongoing and we were not in a position to resolve them." So, it's up to you to keep onto them and show the issues are consistent.

Sketchy Details

Virgin Media was sketchy about the details. Although we asked them twice to clarify the consumer's position if something goes wrong, they simply stated: "Virgin Media are confident that mobile customers will really enjoy the service, which is super competitive and great value for money.

"Our fixed cable contracts range from 12 to 18 months. With the exception of mobile services, 12 to 18 month contract periods do apply for bundles of TV, broadband and phone, and this is all explained in advance of purchase verbally, in writing prior to agreeing a contract and online in the standard terms and conditions."

However, they did state that mobile phone contracts "are on a one month contract and customers may cancel, giving one month's notice. This is the case for mobile including where mobile forms part of a wider range of services."

Finally, Vodafone appears to be flexible enough, stating that "customers can add or remove certain elements as required."

What else can you do to protect yourself?

  1. Run a speed test. Before you sign | on the dotted line, ask the company you are considering giving your business to to run a line speed test, so you know what speeds your household specifically can get. Many companies do this as standard, but if you're not offered it be sure to speak up.
  2. Put it to the test. Be aware that you have a cooling-off period of - 14 days, regardless of what kind of contract you entering to. This gives you the opportunity to really put your services to the test. Try and watch some Netflix. Download a few files. Upload some high-resolution photos, Make sure you are happy with the service provided.
  3. Ask around. eir may provide great internet in your area, but what's their phone coverage like? Alternatively, Sky may have the TV package you want, buthow's the internet connection? Ask neighbours and friends about their service.
  4. Do your research. Cost comparison websites such as Bonkers.ie is an ideal starting point in your quest to review your bills. It means you're not checking in with each provider. It is a central point that will help you find out all your options. If you're not tech savvy, then both can be contacted by phone to help you find the best solution.

 What is triple play?

Triple play is where one provider offers you internet, TV and landline phone calls in one package and usually at a pretty competitive price. In October 2012, Eir (or Eircom as it was known then) was the first to introduce triple play to the Irish market and it wasn't long before the rest followed suit.

Last year, the triple offering expanded again when Eir and Virgin Media announced their new addition: quad play, allowing you to add your mobile phone to the mix.

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