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Image Simon Moynihan
Staff Writer

Last week UPC launched their 25Mb minimum products and at we were amongst the first to bring you the news. UPC’s deals are a huge milestone for the Irish broadband market and when they made their announcement, Pat Rabbitte mused that it would probably be pretty good for competition.

Well, our minister for communications wasn’t wrong. Just one day after UPC launched their new product line, Eircom announced that they’d be throwing away the speed limit for a bunch of their customers and taking the lid off the usage jar for a bunch more.

It’s pretty clear that Eircom’s upgrades are in retaliation to UPC’s new products, so what exactly is Eircom offering? We’ll take a closer look.

8Mb NGB Advanced customers get free speed upgrade

If you’re on the 8Mb NGB Advanced product, you will get a free speed upgrade to 24Mb. This is very significant because Eircom’s 24Mb speed is as fast as their Next Generation Broadband network will go. Until now, 24Mb has been Eircom’s premium product at a premium price. The price remains €39.82 per month.

8Mb NGB Regular customers

If you are an 8Mb NGB Regular customer, you will be given unlimited data consumption instead of your usual 30GB per month. Cost is still €29.99 per month.

New customers

And finally, if you’re a new customer, you can get the 24Mb Ultimate product for €39.82 per month which is down from €47.99 – so a pretty decent price cut there.

This is all good stuff for consumers because Eircom has streamlined their NGB product line, given more and even cut prices. There are a small heap of caveats though. Of course, you have to be connected to an NGB enabled exchange, then there’s the line quality issue. Anyone who’s ever had phone line based broadband knows that the speed is limited by all sorts of things ranging from equipment, to line quality, to distance from the local exchange. So even customers connected to NGB enabled exchanges may find that their connection will max out at 12Mb. But it’s still a free upgrade and 12Mb is 50% faster than 8Mb, so what the heck.

Line rental is still the elephant in the room though. These new prices from Eircom don’t include line rental which is more than €25 per month on top of the cost of the broadband. You can do one of their bundles and it works out cheaper, but in general you’ll still probably get more bang for your buck with UPC.

For example, for €55 per month, you can get Eircom’s 24Mb unlimited usage package including line rental and off peak calls. For €42 per month, you can get UPC’s 25Mb unlimited package with a phone and calls.

The Eircom product upgrades are certainly welcome, but will benefit customers in areas that are limited to DSL phone line based broadband the most. In areas where customers can get UPC, it just looks like a better deal. It is yet to be seen whether they can stand over their speed claims, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. Of the 300,000 customers on Eircom's NGB products, 130,000 will be eligible for either a speed of a usage upgrade.

It is worth mentioning though that Eircom has MusicHub and UPC doesn’t. We Irish have long been experimented upon by marketeers trying to figure out how best to launch and flog new products. It’s because we’re a small western market and advertising is relatively cheap. Without knowing it, we’ve been influential in the development of all sorts of new stuff from washing powder to cosmetics to… well, you guessed it, new ways of consuming music legally.

MusicHub comes with Eircom broadband subscriptions and enables you to stream pretty much whatever you want when you want, create playlists, and for a few extra euros a month, download and keep tracks and albums. Of course you can do all that in other ways, but legal is good and it’s a very nice broadband add-on which is not available to the rest of Ireland, and most of the rest of the world for that matter. And if it works and we Irish like it, MusicHub may well be launched worldwide soon.