I was asked recently to fix up a small website for some friends, which was hosted on eircom, the Irish national telecoms provider. So, I thought, fine, I need to find out if they support PHP, Java, ASP or even Ruby on Rails, get the development tools, and away I go – right?
It turns out that eircom (note the fact I refuse to capitalise – cheap shot I know, but well deserved) doesn’t support any server side scripting. Nor do they support any kind of backend database. As I found out, the largest telecoms provider in this fair country of mine in firmly stuck back in 1993 with Windows 3.1 and New Kids on the Block.
Plucky, optimistic guy that I am, I decide to not get too annoyed with my countrymen, and instead get an account from GoDaddy (tacky site, but cheap and with very good account management tools), opt for the LAMP stack, and lo and behold, a few days later the site was up and running.
Not so fast, says eircom! In order to upload files to the eircom FTP server (whenever it’s not crashed and out of service) you first have to be connected to the internet using an eircom connection, regardless of the fact that you have the username and password for the account. This seems to exist for the simple purpose of punishing you, the naughty naughty customer, for having the temerity to accept one of the plethora of infinitely better broadband deals from one of Eircom’s competitors. So, now I’m reduced to sending a mass email to my friends to find out if any of them have an eircom account so they can upload the file for me.
This whole episode is a fitting microcosm of the problems Ireland is having with it’s broadband rollout. For a country that prides itself on being a “Knowledge Economy”, it has one of the lowest levels of broadband penetration in Europe, and the blame for this can be laid at eircoms door.
Their resistance to Local Loop Unbundling is frankly criminal, abusing a monopoly that they’ve held for far too long, and is the reason why, until very recently, they were they only broadband provider in my area. And it’s not like I’m living in the wild west of Mayo, I live in Dublin, the capital.
Eircom should be leading the way, pushing themselves to win market share by offering better products, better prices and better services. They don’t, and it’s crippling Ireland’s technological advancement. And until the EU’s legislation results in millions of €uro in fines, the chancers running the company will continue to drag their feet and piss me off.
Phew! Try saying that in one breath!