MONEY MADE EASY by NIALL BRADY
PAT RABBITTE, the minister for communications, said last week that work had begun on a national high-speed broadband network, as promised in the programme for government. However, super-fast internet access is already a reality in urban areas. UPC has raised its entry-level speed to 25Mb, with the option of upgrading to 100Mb. Eircom retaliated last week, offering free upgrades to some customers and price reductions to others. We guide you through the options.
HOW FAST IS HIGH SPEED?
Most broadband proviers havea current standard of 8Mb, jfast enough for watching television, such as the catch-up RTE Player service, or YouTube videos online. Niall Kitson, the editor of PC Live! magazine said: "The big selling point of 24Mb or 25Mb broadband is that you can overate several devices simultaneously from a home wi-fi connection. you canwork online from a PC, for example, while other family members are using iPads or smartphones."
At speeds of more than 100Mb, it vecomes possible to stream television in high definition. "Broadband providers are still searching for applications that people will use at very fast speeds," said Kitson. "They're future-proofing by providing these speeds now."
WHAT DOES IT COST?
UPC has three bundles for new customers. For €60 a month, Fibre Power Starter includes 25Mb broadband, off-peak calls and a basic television package. For €65, Fibre Power Essential provides a better TV package including National Geographic and sports channels such as ESPN. For €75, Fibre Power Ultimate doubles the broadband speed to 50Mb. For an extra €10 a month, Fibre Power Ultimate customers can upgrade to 100Mb.
Eircom has reacted with free upgrades and price reductions. Those on its 8Mb Advanced package, costing €39.82 a month, will be upgraded to 24Mb for free. If their phone lines cannot support 24Mb, all restrictions on download allowances will be removed. Customers who already pay for the 24Mb will see their bills fall from €47.99 to €39.82 a month.
Simon Moynihan of Bonkers.ie, a price comparison website, said: "This should go a long way towards keeping Eircom customers happy as they've had a pretty meagre usage limit until now. The upgrades will be given to less than half of Eircom's next-generation broadband customers, however, and none of its standard broadband customers will be eligible".
WHICH IS BEST?
UPC is the clear winner on price, to match UPC's starter bundle, costing €60 a month , Eircom customers would have to spend €84.73 - €61.73 for 24Mb broadband and off-peak phone calls and €23 for Sky's basic satellite TV package.
Eircom's bundle includes 30 minutes of calls a month to mobilese and other extras. There is no guarantee, though, that it can provide 24Mb broadband becuase its network is not as advanced as that of UPC.
"UPC's bundle is a teriffic product, but it represents a bit of a price muddle," said Moynihan. "Up to now you could get UPC broadband by itself without a phone for €32.75 a month, but there is no longer a low-cost standalone broadband product available from UPC."
Eircom still offers standalone broadband, but the prices it quotes exclude line rental of €25.36 a month.
There is a good chance that you will not receive the speed for which you are paying, despite the claims of your broadband supplier. Test your speed for free on irishisptest.com or speedtest.net.