Maeve Kneafsey, IIA Chair and MD of Elucidate was recently asked to contribute to a Sunday Times article about broadband in light of Vodafone‘s entry into the market. Here below are her thoughts which make a handy pocket sized guide to choosing broadband in Ireland.
What should consumers expect to get from a decent basic broadband package?
One of the big things for consumers to watch out for is not just the monthly cost, but also to compare the speed or megabytes (mb) they are being offered and all the additional extras involved in installing the service into their home or business. There can be a lot of hidden costs, so check the detail and then make your cost comparison. Watch out for the cap on the amount of files you can transfer in any given month as this can be really expensive if you go over your cap. The opening offer from Vodafone for a 2mb broadband connection for EUR49.00 a month, includes installation.
What is the best type of broadband – (ADSL), cable-TV connections, or wirelessly through the air via a satellite dish or aerial?
Depends on what is most important to you, convenience (being able to move around), speed, cost and of course if the service or choice are available in your area. Most areas don’t even have a huge choice as often served by one or two service providers.
Wireless via satellite can be expensive, wireless via the air is reliable and convenient (depending on providers coverage of course) but can be a bit slow (e.g. 3.5mb or download or upload speed), sky offer 8-9mb which seems very fast, ADSL still seems to be the fastest and the most reliable, but it is not always the cheapest and it may not be available in your area. Also watch out if it says it is an up to 2mb it may be less than 2mb.
What is the best way of shopping around for a deal?
Maybe start by using a very handy online tool called the Broadband Calculator that allows you to fill in your preferences and it will deliver a result – http://www.callcosts.ie/broadband/Broadband_Calculator.175.LE.asp which is (from what I can tell) an independent source of information. It asks you questions such as do you want to exclude the cost of a telephone line rental as some providers don’t need a phone line to operate, what speed you want etc.
I would also use the price comparison websites http://www.broadband.gov.ie/List+all++Services/ to compare costs and download speeds. However, your journey does not end there, because then you have to check that your shortlist providers are available in your area which you can find out from http://mapviewer.broadband.gov.ie/ServiceByLocationSearchWF.aspx.
Then double check there aren’t any hidden costs associated with installation and add-ons to your monthly charges, which may not have been mentioned earlier. You need to double check exactly what you will see as a total charge on your monthly bill before you agree to sign up to any service provider. No harm in asking them to confirm by email. You should also check how long it will take before it will be set up (“Is there a waiting list?”) and exactly what is involved. You don’t want to be sitting waiting all day for them to arrive, or have a team ready to work without any access to broadband. So ask how this is managed and can you book a specific time for installation.
An added difficulty can be getting a response from the providers, especially if you contact them via their website or email. But if they do offer you to contact them via email or their website and don’t respond to your query, it might indicate how well they will deal with you in the future if you are experiencing problems with your service.
Who do you think is offering the best deal at the moment?
I would love to answer this one, but it depends on what is the top priority for you. Is it speed, ability to move around, reliability, availability in your area or cost? Good luck!