UPC research highlights value of Irish internet economy

Irish adults suggest €130 a month would be enough to go without a broadband connection

Eoin Clarke
by Eoin Clarke on 5th June, 2014

The demands placed on the Irish internet economy are highlighted in a new UPC research report that shows a dramatic increase in online capabilities in the past two years.

This is the second UPC Report on Ireland’s Digital Future with the first taking place in 2012. The report, which surveyed 1,000 Irish adults about their digital lives and over 200 Irish business decision makers, showed an increase in broadband speeds and in the use of online shopping tools.

Research, carried out by Amárach on behalf of UPC, showed 30% of Irish adults are now subscribing to broadband speeds of 30Mbps or higher – up from only 10% in the last report.

The growth of the Irish internet economy is showcased by the fact the figure towers above the EU-28 average of 18.2% for higher online speeds.

More so, by the fact that 44% of Irish homes can access broadband speeds of up to 200Mbps, according to the UPC research.

“Ireland ranks highly among the world’s most digitally advanced economies,” said Magnus Ternsjo, CEO of UPC Ireland.

“Investment in digital infrastructure, products and services is strong and is equally matched by the skills to use them.”

Importance to everyday life

The internet is helping to boost connectivity with friends, family and the community, according to respondents of the Amárach questionnaire.

An increasing number of devices are being connected in Irish homes, from smartphones and tablets to laptops and PCs, with tablets increasing in use from 19% in 2012 to 54% in 2014.

Several internet providers are also investing heavily in new networks, which means broadband speeds are expected to increase in the future.

One of the key questions asked in the report related to what people would want if their internet were to disappear tomorrow – with responses helping to highlight its importance to everyday life.

People revealed they would want €130 a month or up to €1,500 a year to replace their loss since the internet is deemed a vital component of life – a figure that jumps to €1,800 for people aged 35-44.

Businesses are increasingly using the internet to drive sales, while online shopping and consumer spending are also increasing.

The latter is expected to total just under €6bn a year in 2014 and it should reach nearly €13bn a year by 2020.

Some 59% of Irish adults engage in online shopping at least once a month, while 60% of parents are using parental control software to limit what their children can access.

This highlights the importance of child safety online and suggests many parents are aware of the risks and are taking steps to eradicate them.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, T.D, welcomed the report and suggested its findings paint a clear picture of Ireland’s digital future.

“[It] makes an excellent contribution to our understanding of Ireland’s digital economy and the impact and benefits which the internet is creating for our society,” he said.

“The findings from the UPC Report are clear. If we can capture the opportunity presented by digitisation, then this will contribute strongly to jobs and economic growth” he added.