Archive for the ‘Eamon Ryan’ Category

The Government’s Smart Economy hoopla

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

A packed Government Press Room, full of suits slapping each other on the back on how wonderful they all are, interspersed with some people from the media. So 94 pages of words were released today in the form of a report called “Technology Actions to Support the Smart Economy”. Get it here.

Already we’re in PR overdrive with 300 jobs announced today and Minister Ryan saying they might even have been conservative with the 10s of 10,000s of jobs to be created around this. If we honestly counted all the numbers of jobs meant to be created there’d probably be about a million more than the population can sign up to. And these Jobs he stated, would include builders building offices for companies. Right, despite there 1000s of buildings in Dublin alone newly built or renovated and being idle. Straw, grasp.

We could all do without the bullshit and inflated job numbers. That we are addressing digital issues is great, let’s do that without point scoring or headline grabbing. We need to move from dying manufacturing to an economy where we process and create digital goods.

So what was the announced?

The Exemplar Smart Communications Network
A new high speed next generation network. They actually said it was an NGN. In actuality it’s no more than a test track for networking technologies. Ryan makes it sound like this will allow Ireland to have digital hubs everywhere and suggests it’ll be great for industry. I don’t see how as this is not a network going around the country, it’s not even going from point A to B, it reads like it’s just going to be a test network in a college. Pages and pages of guff talking about this. And then could and would are brought in. There are no definites, the report just says the tech from the test network could be used on Government networks. it could be expanded into population centres. How exactly when the Government said they’re not investing in NGN?

Data Centres that are green and cloud computing
The report then goes on to tell us that the future ins in cloud computing Web 3.0 (semantic web) and virtualisation. Handy that the DCENR official that was in charge of this said Microsoft had a very heavy influence in putting this together. Microsoft get a few pages of praise on their new datacentre in Ireland as do CIX who helped campaign for the Green Party in the local and European elections (see them in the Green Party election ad). There’s talk about some green data centre standard too. Just talk mind.

International Content Services Centre
Now this is where it gets murky. They want to set up the equivalent of the IFSC but for content. I don’t think they know exactly how that works. Store your content in Ireland and have people work on it. They mentioned there are issues with copyright though. Really? No! Dublin based too. One would think with a country where every inch is covered by broadband according to the Minister, that geography don’t get in the way of digital. Lawyers and IP experts were mentioned a lot. It really felt like Ireland will be digital shylocks or debt collectors with such a Government policy of supporting DRM. From the report

Offices of legal firms with particular specialisation in global digital right management and intellectual property.

If done right, we can make the Pirate Bay and the movie companies become best buds.

Yet, here we go again. Where’s the API for Government data? Where’s the access to the vast RTE archive with good licensing deals for outside companies to make something new with this material? That’s real life data right there, not wishes and this apparently was not considered by the brain trust who put this report together.

Smart Electrical Grid
Not my area, no commentary. Smart grid = efficient grid, surely that should always be the aim. If you think about it, this is merely an upgrade anyway as progress marches forward, yet here it’s a big thing. The ESB upgrade their network and use the tech that’s being used elsewhere.

Traffic Flow
Traffic management systems. Uhm. Pie in the sky stuff about consumers routed around congestion spots.

Smart Bay
A research project on Galway Bay. Ok…

This whole initiative is manipulation of numbers and ideas. There’s a long list of people in public and private industry who put this report together. I hope they’re happy that they got their agendas in while making it sound like this is meant to be good for Ireland. The usual “people talk this stuff down to much” was uttered. Stop lying to us and we’ll talk up the good stuff.

John’s take.

Eamon Ryan says No to eircom nationalisation but…

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Speaking at the TIF Charity Ball tonight:

eircom’s future

Clearly the role of the incumbent, eircom, will be important in the context of investment for high speed broadband. I am aware that the ownership of the company is under consideration at the moment. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on any specific proposals that have emerged in this regard. I can, however, indicate that State ownership of eircom is not on my agenda. Nevertheless, the Government does attach very significant importance to eircom given its national telecommunications reach. I want to see an ownership and management in eircom that is focussed on efficient operating structures and on investment for the future. I believe eircom has much to offer an investor with a long term, strategic focus. The company generated revenues of over €2 billion in 2008 and had an operating profit (EBITDA) of over €700 million. However, the short term ownership model that we have witnessed in recent years leaves much to be desired and I would not welcome a similar model again. I would welcome, and indeed I would seek to facilitate in whatever ways I can, an investor who would have the capacity to invest in a long term business model that is bandwidth focussed. Cross platform competition is clearly critical to market development and the policy environment will continue to encourage platform competition. Similarly, open access and consumer protection will continue to be key policy and regulatory priorities. In that context, I believe eircom offers a collaboration minded investor, with a strong commitment to truly open access, a significant opportunity for solid investment. I further believe that the regulatory principles that I outlined above can facilitate eircom, and indeed, all service operators in making the necessary investment on a commercial basis.

Sounds like the State will help an investor out if they guarantee some things. I wonder would the Government do like they did when they bulk bought international bandwidth and resold it at cost?

National Broadband Scheme Launch

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

The Department of Communications invited me along to the launch of the National Broadband Scheme yesterday after I emailed them and asked them to invite me. Like the people who nominated themselves for blog awards, I was shocked and surprised at getting invited.

And the scheme? Lovely use of numbers to talk about this major investment. Minister Eamon Ryan talked about how all these new people on broadband will lift the whole economy in these dark days

He talked about his own web company he ran from his bedroom on dialup 10 years ago and I thought that’s exactly the speed some people are getting now and will still get with a mobile dongle at the edge of a broadband scheme area. Working from home is great though, pants being optional is fantastic. Wearing suits all day must be a killer for the Minister.

Anyway, if the vision of a nation of small businesses operating online is to come true then they’ll need something a damned sight better than a 3G dongle. I know some businesses do operate using one but they can basically handle email and very light web surfing. An office with 5-6 computers though? And only allowed one connection? Or do they pay for 1 per computer? 100 euros a month for a connection that a business in Dublin can get for 20 euros.

If you can’t get a 3G signal then they’ll give you a satellite dish and you still pay €19.99 per month for about 1Mbps down and a 15 Gig download limit. 8% of those under the scheme will get this and I’m sure given the cost of it, Three and the Department will do their best to give you a dongle when a satellite dish might be better.

This is the reality of rural life and broadband. Let’s see what Dave’s story is like in a year or two years or three years.

And for those in areas that the Department said are already covered? Yesterday the tone was polite but they were still saying “tough shit”. The Department said that they can’t subsidise people where there are line of sight issues with Irish Broadband or Digiweb or line failure issues with eircom. These apparently are technical issues and are up to the providers to sort out. The Department said the EU won’t let them subsidise, which again I’d argue is not correct. Once a statement from said ISP says they can’t supply to that person, then they can be subsidised. That’s what I read in the docs the EU sent to the Department.

So, for those who will still be shafted, one way of getting broadband is to find a friend who is in an NBS area and will be getting a dish not a dongle. Then have this friend either order another connection for the barn next door or get your friend’s neighbours not interested in a broadband connection to order one. A satellite installer will happily move it and reinstall it to your place.

Read more about NBS here.

Broadband in Ireland in 2009 – Could it get better?

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Two things at the very end of 2008 could mean there is a little hope for better broadband conditions in Ireland come 2009.

Photo owned by andrewjstevens (cc)

First, many operators seem hopeful that when it comes to selling broadband products over copper, it will now be easier and cheaper. This is to do with new pricing models for Local Loop Unbundling that ComReg (the patentedly useless telecoms regulator) brought out forcing eircom to remove what could be classed as getting hello money for moving a customer from one broadband service to another (despite there also being a connection and even a cancelation fee). This means there is more of an incentive by operators to offer good products that compete with each other. This pricing change should have happened about 7 years ago. If those telcos weren’t such wimps when it comes to the regulator maybe this would have happened sooner but despite all the private moaning about ComReg, they’re all afraid to say something about them in public. People too comfortable in their fucking jobs. The attitude would be different if they owned their telcos.

Unlike IrelandOffline, who thankfully are back. A more independent, nothing-to-lose by telling the naked truth group has always been needed in Irish telecoms and it’s great to see a group of dedicated people restart IrelandOffline. There is a huge amount of work to do and a massive amount of issues to tackle but at least their is now an identifiable voice for the masses. Hopefully we’ll see them meet with Eamon Ryan sooner rather than later and despite all the shit I give the man here, he is always open to listening to people and groups about broadband. Maybe they’ll get him to do something too though.

Sue Pool: eircom, o2, Vodafone or Meteor: Who’ll sue Eamon Ryan first?

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Bear with me here…

Via the National Dialup Scheme Three Ireland now are getting Government money to expand their mobile broadband market into areas other broadband providers are not going. Great. The EU says that’s cool.

But Three’s network is all data with voice going over it. Where they have service they have all service. Broadband and voice. Where three doesn’t offer a service, they use Vodafone. They pay them for this. If the Government pay Three to go into an area they were not before then they can offer voice too. Fabuloso! They can dump Vodafone and save a pile. But I bet those areas have a voice service from Vodafone, o2 and Meteor already don’t they? Now the taxpayer is giving an unfair advantage to Three in the mobile area.

Photo owned by markhillary (cc)

Wouldn’t you sue if you were these boys? And then there’s eircom with some good exchanges that could have been enabled. They have good lawyers too.

So who’ll sue first?

National Dialup Tender – 2 year wait before some will get shit Internet

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Longwinded piece but the gist is: The National Dialup Tender will use Three Mobile Dongles, no fixed line, no fixed wireless connections. 1Mb download, 200k upload. Or a Satellite dish!

From question time with Eamo today:

Deputy Eamon Ryan:

As regards the timeframe for completion, the ITT requires that all houses and business premises must be provided with a broadband service within 22 months of the signing of the contract. 3’s response to the ITT meets that requirement. The finer details are being worked out at present and will be finalised at contract signing which is expected to take place on 11 December 2008. As regards the bandwidth and download speeds, 3 will extend its network to provide mobile broadband services into the NBS area.

In recognition of the fact that some areas will be very difficult to reach using standard infrastructure, 3 will make available a satellite product. The specific details are being discussed with 3 at present and will be finalised at contract signing. In order to protect the integrity of the procurement process, I do not propose to release details of the value of the NBS contract at this time.

Liz McManus asked this of Eamo then:

Does the Minister accept that, in fact, there are people who are not in the broadband scheme and are unable to access it even though their area might be described as having such access within the indicative map? We are going to end up with the anomalous position where people cannot access, for example, the 3 service, but because they are described as having access, they will not be able to avail of opportunities under the broadband scheme. Could he, perhaps, give us details of the technology platform, the guarantees in terms of speed, the penalties if the target of 1 megabyte is not met, as well as the coverage targets? Cost seems to me to be the only reason 3 got the contract, but how do I know, since I am not getting the information. The Minister is not willing to give us the cost, but he should at least give us the information about safeguards.

And here Eamon admits that the scheme is just a whole load of mobile dongles:

Deputy Eamon Ryan:

I am reluctant to give this information until the contracts are signed, which will be within the week.

The service that will be provided will meet with widespread public support. There have been concerns with regard to the start of the roll-out of certain mobile broadband services over the past year. We should recognise those services have just started and there are naturally teething difficulties. That said, we now have approximately 250,000 people who have signed up for such mobile broadband services. We must also recognise that because 40% of our houses are one-off houses in the countryside, we will always be a country where mobile broadband services are in higher demand than in other countries. We may develop a benefit from this, particularly where we can get new evolving mobile, wireless and other connections onto fibre quickly and provide good high quality services.

Simon Coveney needled him then on the mobile:

Deputy Simon Coveney: However, the Minister seems to suggest that part of the solution will be provided via a mobile product, but one can get a mobile broadband service in a number of these grey areas already, whether on top of a mountain or wherever. The issue with regard to broadband connectivity is not about mobile services. Is the Minister suggesting that 3G or 3 will put up mobile masts in these areas to provide for broadband via a mobile phone?

That may be a useful service for people who want to access the Internet on their mobile phones, but it is not a consistent enough solution for people opening businesses in parts of rural Ireland that cannot get broadband currently.

Go Simon!

This resulted in:

Deputy Eamon Ryan: I used the term “mobile” in the way it is commonly used, as in “not fixed” line.

Deputy Simon Coveney: We want clarity.

(Very Tom Cruise in a Few Good Men!)

Deputy Eamon Ryan: This means it is connected to one’s computer or to whatever hand-held device one wants.

Deputy Simon Coveney: It is not mobile then.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: I am not restricting people in terms of how they access the Internet. However, we need broadband access. In this case, we will have speeds of over 1 megabit download and over 200 kilobits on the upload. There is also provision for those speeds in the services to be improved in the five-year period the contract will cover.

Three Ireland win National Dialup Tender

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

This is the 373 page thread of complaints about Three on

This is a cataclysmic failure. eircom would have been better to give the tender to as they have way more experience in rolling out broadband, wireless and satellite. Of the two that were in it, eircom certainly could have offered more. Best of a bad lot for sure. Remember Three outsource everything with BT building the network for them and that network was a piece of shit for months after they first starting selling broadband.

People who use the Three service right now get dialup rates a lot of the time in Dublin, not broadband, so you can be sure those few people who can actually avail of broadband under this scheme will getting nothing close to event he loosest definition of broadband. A giant FAIL by Eamon Ryan and his Department over this.

There is also the huge, monstrous irony that some people will not be allowed to avail of broadband under the National Broadband Scheme in their area because they’d be classed as being in areas where they can already get Three Broadband, yet obviously they can’t.

Festival Linux IPVG Chillán
Photo owned by gonzalemario (cc)


47% of Irish Schools get their web connection via crappy Satellite

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

From the terrace 9
Photo owned by suvodeb (cc)

Where’s the upgrade path to 10Mb Internet there? It’s worse than that though. Only 27% of schools get broadband via a wired service. 26% via wireless. There is no easy way for those schools to get fibre, now is there? I’m glad Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan is thinking about the children and their broadband connection but it seems like he’s considering their situation and then that’s it.

PQ via Liz McManus:

To the Minister for Education and Science
To ask the Minister for Education and Science the number of schools in the broadband for schools initiative that have satellite internet, fibre, DSL and wireless; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Liz McManus. (Nominated by: Liz McManus).

Go to the Oireachtas Website if you want to find the full record, I’m not going to hurt my eyes and hands going through it for you.

Minister of State, Barry Andrews

Of the 3,905 local connectivity installations, 27%, or 1,051 schools have fixed
line services, 26% or 1,028 schools have wireless services and 47% or 1,826
schools have satellite services.
A further 72 schools have had broadband
access provided under the Hermes and Advanced Deployment programmes and are not
included in the 3,905 schools. The split of technology services across these
72 schools is 43 fixed line services, 25 wireless services and 4 satellite

Not great at al now is it? No mention of fibre but that might come under fixed-line. I know there are some schools connected to fibre.

Having regard to the usage levels observed by HEAnet, my Department has
procured additional bandwidth from its two satellite providers to improve the
broadband connection speeds for schools on this portion
of the Schools
Broadband Network. The situation continues to be monitored closely. In
addition, my Department has migrated schools to superior alternative
technologies, where feasible.

I’m unaware of any satellite systems that can increase their bandwidth to anything over 2Mb in this country due to our location on the edge of Europe.

My Department will shortly issue a Request for Tenders for the next round of
service. The priority for the new procurement process will be to ensure that
the broadband services to schools keep in line with national infrastructure
improvements. The RFT will seek tenders which at least maintain the existing
service that schools currently receive.
Having regard to the general
developments in broadband availability nationally, improved service offerings
are expected
to be received under the new tender process.

At least maintain the existing service that schools currently receive? Hello? This already sounds like a cop-out. You’ll read further down they talk about 100megs into schools and now they talk here about at least what the schools have now. For half that means crapalite.

My Department will also collaborate with the Department of Communications,
Energy and Natural Resources to pursue the Government objective of equipping
second-level schools with 100Mb per second
of broadband connectivity and
installing local area networks, as outlined in the Consultation Paper on Next
Generation Broadband.

Got kids in schools? Depressed yet?

PQs – Parliamentary Questions – One way of getting politicians to tell the truth

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

The examples of Fine Gael and Labour asking probing questions this week in the form of parliamentary questions have revealed that the National Broadband Scheme is going to be delayed, even more than we knew.

And now we also learn that the winning bidder who will be announced in November (which starts Saturday) is allowed to use satellite as a solution in 8% of the tender. Satellite isn’t broadband but then mobile broadband isn’t either.


To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if areas have been identified under the national broadband scheme as suitable for satellite internet access only; the percentage of the contract covered by this; the areas under the national broadband scheme that have been identified as being suitable for satellite internet access only; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


Subject to agreement with the chosen service provider, rollout of services is expected to begin shortly after the contract is signed. The chosen service provider will be required to complete the roll out of services within 22 months of the contract award. All requests for a broadband service in the areas to be addressed by the NBS will be met.

The areas already covered by terrestrial broadband service providers will not be included in the NBS. The map showing the areas to be addressed by the NBS is available on my Department’s website and attached for information.

No specific areas have been identified as being suitable for satellite internet access. However, it is expected that some areas will be impossible to reach using terrestrial broadband platforms. The winning service provider will be allowed to serve up to 8% of the buildings in the NBS coverage area using satellite.

And we also learn that the post code system will cost 15 million quid but might never brought about:


To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his policy on postcodes; the cost of implementation; the cost of consultancy on this issue to date; his views on whether the growth of GPS will make postcodes redundant; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


The report of the board estimates that the cost of implementing, promoting and maintaining the postcode would be approximately €15 million.

A proposal concerning the introduction of postcodes went to Government in May 2007 and Government decided that, prior to the introduction of postcodes, further analysis to quantify the wider economic and societal benefits should be carried out. This analysis was recently updated and it will assist me to decide on how best to take the proposal forward. In this regard I fully accept that a postcode system can convey economic and social benefits, assist future competition in the postal sector and assist delivery of certain public services. I expect to bring a further proposal to Government in relation to the introduction of postcodes.

You can ask your local representatives to table questions and a lot of the time they’ll rephrase them to remove any leeway in the answers.

Eamon Ryan and his Skype story = Everything is fine

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Belkin Skype Wi-Fi phone - Starbucks
Photo owned by icherche (cc)

Eamon Ryan keeps telling this same boring story again and again about when he visited Korea and he couldn’t get his phone to work or Skype or upload files. He’s said it in the Senate, he’s said it in interviews, he told me this story on the phone, he told it at his broadband forum a while back.

(Aside: Joe asked me why I said nothing at the forum when journos and bloggers got a private audience with Ryan. My reason? I see no point arguing with a man that is so comfortable lying to anyone and everyone and happily swerves away from reality with such panache.)

Back to the rant 🙂 This Korean story to Eamon means Korea is in fact not as good for broadband. Great logic right? Take those Koreans down a peg or two and we’re looking a bit better. Step back into the swap there lads.

From his debate with Shane Ross the other day:

While it may be true to say that in Korea there is 100 Mb broadband connectivity to every home, it does not necessarily mean they have the applications or the benefits from that. Nor does it mean they have the economic strivers from it. These are some of the reasons we would be investing and we will invest in the development of our broadband future.

One of the problems I encountered at the conference was that my mobile telephone did not work.

I could not connect my mobile telephone to the network. I could not run Skype on the network. I could not send a single 5 Mb video file from the convention centre.

While it is useful to analyse and use international comparisons to determine what is happening in other countries and learn from them, we must remember that we have our own unique characteristics.

See, his argument is that his one experience of a shit connection at a conference means we shouldn’t trust dozens of studies and hundreds of news stories about just how good Korea is in terms of broadband. Which is fine because anyone that was at this Broadband Forum a few weeks back can now argue the same thing. By the power of Ministerial logic, because the WiFi in Dublin castle was shit, it means in fact that Ireland has no broadband at all.

Photo owned by [ v2milk ] (cc)

Eamon couldn’t of course leave it at that and went on and repeated the same lies of his and his Department which have been used nonstop:

In the past year and a half we have roughly doubled the number of broadband subscribers, which was the fastest rate of growth in the OECD. We have been particularly strong and fast growing in the mobile broadband sector, in the application of wireless hotspots and mobile broadband itself. We are also starting to see prices come down and speeds increase. In recent months operators have been increasing their standard packages from 2 Mb to 10 Mb or even 20 Mb. New companies are building fibre optic networks which are providing 50 Mb connectivity to the home. It is starting to happen and companies are starting to deliver.

Lying fucking Ryan.