Author Archive

Well done Damien. Damien Blake that is

Monday, February 6th, 2006

Damien Blake just enabled comments on his blog so now we can address our local Letterkenny issues with Damien who’s the Mayor of Letterkenny. He’s 5 years younger than me so I’m now going to call him a kid! Go look at this kids blog and see can you get your local politician to follow Damien’s lead.

Some Press for the Awards

Monday, February 6th, 2006

Awards launched for Irish bloggers and Recognition for
Irish bloggers.

Edit: 210 votes so far today!

Further Edit: I appear on the Ireland Digital Podcast (No. 17) with Alex and Steve. We start off on blogs and go into IrelandOffline territory and regulation. Yes, it gets boring, but then we get back on topic.

Who was Ireland’s first blogger?

Monday, February 6th, 2006

I just did a press interview there and was asked who was the first blogger in Ireland. It’d be good to research who this was. I don’t know who it was but I did mention that Ireland had one of the first websites in the world thanks to Peter Flynn of UCC so Irish people were getting their point across online since the very start. So who was our first blogger or the first website which allowed comments on a page (and not via a guest book)?

Fiona starts the next blog war – Abortion is the topic

Monday, February 6th, 2006

Fiona says she thinks abortion should be legal. I have a feeling this will get quite emotive and probably personal judging by those in the Blogosphere who are against abortion and those who are keen supporters of the right to bodily integrity. Fiona also seems to lay down a challenge:

I have yet to hear a rational, non-emotional and non-theological argument against legalising abortion in Ireland.

I’ll definitely be tuned into this one because I think it is going to be topical for a long while in Ireland and seems far more emotive than the divorce debate ever was.

Edit: Forgot to mention that from my blinkered view of this I have never seen any debate about how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and how to create a society where unwanted pregnancies is a rare thing. There’s the Crisis Pregnancy Agency but they seem to also try and “help” women to change their mind about having an abortion. What do pro-choice people say about a group like this? Is it a front or a genuine organisation?

Draft Press Release for Blog Awards (Draft 2)

Sunday, February 5th, 2006

Draft 2. Thanks to all for the public and private feedback.

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2fm DJ Rick O’Shea is to host Ireland’s first ever Blogging Awards. The radio show host will act as MC for the awards bash, billed as the inaugural celebration of Ireland’s online blogging community. O’Shea began his own online weblog in 2005, and volunteered his MC services as one of Ireland’s most high-profile bloggers. Ireland’s blog community has mushroomed in 2005 with over 1000 people now sharing their views and opinions on anything that interests them.

Event organiser Damien Mulley commented on the event “While the Irish blogging community is small right now, the community outputs a considerable amount of work that is consistently of very high quality. With this in mind we decided that having an awards event now would be a way of showing the newest members of the Irish Blogging Community the blogs that our community is most proud of. The awards will be our quality mark.”

Rick O’Shea commented “It’s an honour to be asked to host what we all know will be the first of many nights to honour people who blog”

Blog Facts:
* There are currently 27 Million blogs online.
* A new blog is created every second.
* The total number of blogs double about every 5 months.
* 13% of all blogs are updated at least on a weekly basis.

What is a blog, what is blogging?

Blogging allows anyone to publish and distribute their opinion online about any topic via their own website or a free blogging service. Blogs are like a modern day version of a printing press with the user having full control of the message but additionally blogs allow anyone to comment on the opinons generated by a blogger. This instantly creates a conversation between people from all over the globe.

Well known bloggers:
Jeremy Thompson from Sky News – http://jeremythompson.typepad.com/my_weblog/
Inventor of the Web Tim Berners Lee – http://dig.csail.mit.edu/breadcrumbs/blog/4
Author Neil Gaiman – http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/
Rosie O’Donnell – http://www.rosie.com/

Irish Bloggers include
Labour Deputy Leader – http://lizmcmanus.blogspot.com/
Journalist Sarah Carey – http://www.sarahcarey.ie/
Columnist Richard Develan – http://richarddelevan.blogspot.com

Business Benefits to blogs.

Many companies now monitor blogs to gauge peoples opinions on their products or competitors products. Large and small companies are now also encouraging employees to blog and engage in public discussions via blogs. General Motors, Sun and Microsoft have all created spaces for their employees to blog and to interact with and gauge the opinions of existing and potential new customers.

Amazon are now linking directly to the blogs of authors so their fans can interact with their heros with the chance of more merchandise being purchased

The newest beta version of Internet Explorer was helped a great deal by the Microsoft Engineers engaging with the public and soliciting feedback via a dedicated blog for IE7.

IE7 and why blogging is about to get even bigger:
IE7 now also allows direct subscriptions to blogs and will automatically download and display the latest material from a subscribed blog. With an 80% market share it is predicted that the audience for blogging is going to explode in 2006.

More details about the Blog Awards can be found on the http://www.awards.ie website.

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This is the draft press release for the blog awards. I will be releasing this in its final form in the morning. Opinions appreciated.

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The first ever Irish Blogging Awards take place at 7pm, on March 11th in Buswells Hotel, Dublin and will be hosted by 2fm DJ Rick O’Shea. The awards were created to recognize a new but growing community of Irish Bloggers who discuss and write online about anything which they have an interest in.

Event organiser Damien Mulley commented on the event “While with just over 1000 people blogging in Ireland at the moment, the community is small, there is a considerable throughput and the quality is quite high. With this in mind we decided that having an awards now would be a way of showing the newest members of the Irish Blogging Community the blogs that our community is most proud of. The awards will be our quality mark.”

Rick O’Shea commented “05 was the year I started blogging and it’s an honour to be asked to host what we all know will be the first of many nights to honour people who spend more time on the ‘net than with actual members of their own species…”

There are currently 19.6 Million blogs and the total number doubles about every 5 months as people continue to discover and use them to communicate with other people online.13% of all blogs are updated at least on a weekly basis.

What is a blog, what is blogging?

Blogging allows anyone to publish and distribute their opinion online about any topic via their own website or a free blogging service. Blogs are like a modern day version of a printing press with the user having full control of the message but additionally blogs allow anyone to comment on the opinons generated by a blogger instantly creating a conversation between people from all over the globe.

Readers of blogs can also subscribe to them via browsers such as firefox. This removes the work of visiting a blog site on a daily basis to check for new content. Instead the new content is sent to the user the minute the site is updated.

Business Benefits to blogs.

Many companies now monitor blogs to gauge peoples opinions on their products or competitors products. Large and small companies are now also encouraging employees to blog and engage in public discussions via blogs. General Motors, Sun and Microsoft have all created spaces for their employees to blog and to interact with and gauge the opinions of existing and potential new customers. The newest beta version of Internet Explorer was helped a great deal by the Microsoft Engineers engaging with the public and soliciting feedback via a dedicated blog for IE7.

IE7 and why blogging is about to get even bigger
IE7 now also allows direct subscriptions to blogs and will automatically download and display the latest material from a subscribed blog. With an 80% market share it is predicted that the audience for blogging is going to explode in 2006.

More details about the Blog Awards can be found on the http://www.awards.ie website.

Irish Blog Awards – You can start voting now

Sunday, February 5th, 2006

Vote for your favourite Irish Blogs now. I’m giving those that read this blog a sneak peak. I’ll be making an announcement after midnight on the Irish Blog Awards site. First I must write a few posts on sponsorships and the like. Have had 3 offers so far to sponsor the overall thing which was quite impressive. Must also put that press release together and release it to the press in the morning.

Big thanks to all my sponsors and to the folks of IrishBlogs for making the voting script and Jason Roe for integrating it into my blog.

Cork Blogs like – Another aggregator

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

Roger and the lads at Irishblogs.ie have now created CorkBlogs.com and I’m quite impressed with the amount of bloggers that hail from the rebel county. Didn’t know there were so many. We should have our own meetup some time.

Attention TCAL shoppers – Requesting a weekly best of

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

Hey TCAL lads and lassies! Any chance of a weekly best of? Blog format is ok, screencast or vidcast could be better again. Might not be the easiest thing to do but I bet the software will be out there to do it fairly soon.

Happy Birthday Michele – Sends over virtual cake

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

Michele Neylon 33 candles are lighting for Michele Neylon as he celebrates his birthday today. Everyone wish him a happy birthday and sing him out of tune copyrighted songs!

Broadband in Ireland – IrelandOffline’s view

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

Forfas asked IrelandOffline to give our views on their recent Broadband Benchmarking Report. They asked a few specific questions and we gave quite a lot of detailed replies.

Increasing Broadband Availability

Given Ireland’s spatial patterns, what are the most effective ways to accelerate the rollout of broadband services to all?

Spatial Pattern Excuse/Myth
Just to be clear – Ireland’s spatial patterns are not unique in the developed world. Northern Ireland has 100% broadband availability and a much better penetration rate than the Republic and all with the same spatial pattern. Apart from the very large cities in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, the spatial patterns of these countries are also akin to Ireland and these are some of the leading broadband countries in the world. Spatial patterns are a minor obstacle when phonelines are going
into almost every home in the country already and so therefore can avail of a DSL service if it was provided.

Previous Reports
We believe the best way to accelerate rollout of broadband is for the Government to read previous reports created by Forfas, the Information Society Commission, the Oireachtas Report on broadband and so many more. They have all suggested methods on how to roll out broadband but their recommendations remain unexecuted. This is probably the biggest obstacle for broadband roll out.

Regulation
Additionally the quality of regulation in Ireland is not on-par with other EU countries such as the UK and Denmark. A strong regulator not afraid to take on telecom giants and who does not capitulate during court actions would create a better environment to provide broadband for all.

C/GBS
We believe that the Group and County Broadband schemes created by the DCMNR are a great way of providing broadband to towns and villages who cannot get broadband through any other means but these projects ideally should only be addressing “blackspots” where there is patchy coverage. Instead it appears that 30% of the country would need to set up GBSs if they want to get broadband.

National Wireless Broadband License
We believe that the National Wireless Broadband license that eircom owns should be taken from them and reauctioned to local ISPs who can use the spectrum to provide wireless broadband to rural areas. This 3.5ghz license that eircom owns remains largely unused and is unadvertised and if you try and enquire how to avail of it, you will be told it is not available in your area. We have highlighted this repeatedly to the National Regulatory Authority and we have brought it to the attention of the DCMNR.

Flatrate Internet
We believe that per minute dialup Internet access should be banned and replaced with flatrate bands of dialup. Circa 80% of people still go online using dialup and according to ComReg the average monthly bill for Internet access is around €36. Given that many broadband products are now €20-€30 a month, it means dialup users are paying more for a far inferior product. eircom noted in their SEC filings in 2005 that they sell billions of minutes of dialup Internet. This is a cash cow and an incentive to only rollout broadband at a leisurely pace. The incentive for massive profits from dialup needs to be removed.

Additionally those who cannot get broadband over their phoneline or through wireless should be given the option to be provided with true flatrate broadband where for a price of €30 a month they can avail of 24/7 flatrate.

To implement flatrate bands, the wholesale cost of flatrate needs to be reduced drastically. IrelandOffline has requested that the National Regulatory Authority reexamine the wholesale costs of this service but as per our requests about the National Wireless Broadband license, they have not looked into it, to the best of our knowledge. IrelandOffline question how 180 hours of dialup Internet costs €26.99 when a 1mb always on dsl connection now costs €20. Those suffering on slow dialup should not also have to suffer extortionate costs.

Line Failure Rate
The failure rate of lines connected to broadband exchanges is atrociously high in Ireland with rates of 20-25%. The current enabled exchanges are in mainly urban areas and we believe that as more rural exchanges come online, the line failure rate will increase.

We believe that a mandatory directive should be put in place so that if a line fails the broadband test then it will have to be
investigated by an engineer and replaced if necessary so that it does pass the broadband test. If doing this costs an unreasonable amount then the customer should be provided with a subsidised full flatrate dialup product.

Functional Internet Access
Currently lines in this country must be able to carry a dialup speed of 28.8k. However the regulations for this allow multiple loopholes so many will not even gets 28.8k. We believe that FIA should be once again reexamined so that a line should be able to carry a speed of 42k. This will result in a faster dialup experience for those on dialup but it will also ensure that the quality of the line will also allow it to carry a broadband signal, so that if the exchange the line is on is enabled, then it is guaranteed to pass the broadband line test.

This FIA speed would also mean line splitters would need to be abolished or upgraded to line splitters that can carry a DSL signal. Currently as previously stated, a low speed FIA means the quality of phonelines can be substandard so that they cannot carry carry broadband signals and the dialup signals it does carry are slow enough that it could take twice as long to download something compared to another dialup user on a better line. This means that a telco will make more money from a dialup user on an inferior line. This incentive to profit by not investing in a high quality network must be removed.


National Broadband Authority

Much like the National Roads Authority has helped bring Ireland into the modern era with our road network, we would like to see a body charged with working on bringing about broadband for all. A body that is in charge of linking all the broadband assets together. Additionally the body could link with smaller ISPS and GBSs to provide Government assets for them to use to put up antennae and masts and possible space for data centres.

Planning/Ducting
We believe that the planning regulations for ducting differs from council to council. A standard regulation for ducting is needed and one that provides a cheaper and transparent rate than is available currently. To aid competition, providers should have the means to rollout alternative infrastructure like fibre at a cost that is reasonable.

Internet Usage
Internet usage in Ireland remains unchanged for the past 2-3 years with a usage rate of 37%. This seems to say that those online are moving from dialup to broadband. If this rate of transfer continues it will mean we will get more people on broadband but our overall Internet usage will not increase. The only way to match the rest of the EU and the developed world is to get more people online and bring the 37% figure up to 60% or more. It needs to be researched if those using broadband are just moving from dialup and see are there new Internet users who start off with broadband.

Increasing Competition in the Market Place

How can Ireland accelerate the effective implementation of local loop unbundling to provide competition in the DSL market?

LLU is a failure in Ireland through major incompetence by the NRA. LLU was directed by the EU over 4 years ago and is still not correctly implemented in Ireland. In Feb 2005 the NRA after months of discussions with the OLO sent directives to the incumbent which would have created an environment where LLU would have worked and thrived. After a court case over a point of law and NOT the directives themselves the NRA withdrew all these directives and agreed with the incumbent that the incumbent would created a Market Requirements Document. This was released in October and basically stated that it did not like the idea of LLU and would not make LLU provision an easy task.

It is now 12 months later and none of the issues which the OLOs have been complaining about for the past 4 years have been addressed. We would like to see the National Regulatory Authority reissue these directives.

Additionally we would like to see the DCMNR direct ComReg to bring the LLU rate on a par with the EU Average and to transparently report on Ireland’s ranking compared to the EU on a 3 monthly basis.

Further to that we would like to see an independent LLU adjudicator created, as OfCom did in the UK.

How can Ireland optimise the use of state-owned infrastructure to increase availability and choice of broadband services?

There have been numerous reports suggesting how to link up state-owned fibre and using it to link up MANs and fibre corridors. We’d support previous suggestions on this initiative.

We understand that a private company has been tasked by the Office of Public Works to engage with telcos to rent them roof space and property space. However it seems they will only work with large players like Meteor, o2 and Vodafone. We would like to see Government assets used so that Group Broadband Schemes and smaller ISPs providing broadband to those in less urban areas can use these resources to bring broadband to those that still cannot get it.

Creating Awareness to Increase Demand

How can Ireland best use experiences/initiatives in leading countries to create awareness and drive demand?

We should be looking at the regulatory model of the UK and of Denmark. The majority of countries in the EU have shown how to address the issues of broadband by regulating properly. Ireland needs to do the same. We should bring over the leading people from Estonia who made the country a success in terms of Internet usage.

Are there local initiatives that have been successful in some regions in Ireland that can be used as a template for other parts of the country?

Casey Cable in Dungarvan, Community broadband schemes done by the likes of WestNet. Look at the model in Northern Ireland. 100% broadband availability in a few short years.