[If you want to reply to me, you'll need to copy off-list, because my ILUG
subscription is disabled.]
I don't think I need to draw your attention to the IrelandOffline Blackout,
so I get straight to the point...
IrelandOffline has never, and will never pretend to be the answer to the all
of the problems in the Internet and telecommunications marketplace in
Ireland. We admit our flaws. Our understanding of telecommunications comes
from reading articles and talking to people in the industry. Our marketing
is limited and possibly even naive. Personally speaking, I've never been on
a committee before, I've certainly never done any real public relations
before, and although I find it exhilarating, the chance of screwing it up
scares the absolute bejasus out of me.
However the fact remains that we're doing something, we're trying. And we're
not just fiddling about, preening ourselves, and paying ourselves a tasty
salary like our good friends in the IIA or other "representative
organisations", we're putting our own time and our own money into trying to
force a change. We're trying to apprise consumers, businesspeople,
politicians, the media and representative organisations of the facts. And of
course while doing that, we've discovered that they really, honestly,
haven't the slightest bloody clue.
Take as an example my meeting with a senior (I say "senior" only to
illustrate the level at which the ignorance manifests itself) Fine Gael
politician just last week. Before I met him, he mentioned on the phone that
he was working with the Cork Chamber of Commerce to address the issues. When
I asked what the issues they were dealing with actually were, he told me it
was the delivery of high-bandwidth links to Cork. The Cork Chamber of
Commerce wants a "mini Citiwest" - his words, not mine - in Cork, and they
had convinced this naive politician that this was the solution to our
That's horse manure, and you all know that as well as I do. The key to
making Ireland competitive on the world stage when it comes to the Internet
is the rollout of genuine, affordable flat-rate Internet services; and
affordable broadband connections. I don't need to tell this group why,
because you all already know why. Bringing leased line prices down to levels
in-line with our European and worldwide counterparts is important too, but
it won't come close to the sea-change the rollout of the aforementioned
services will have almost overnight.
What frustrates me through all of this, however, is not the politicians, the
media's or even the consumers or small businessperson's ignorance on the
matters in hand. Politicians have many issues to tackle - and quite
obviously some truly ignorant advisors - so their ignorance, while not
forgivable, is understandable to some extent. The media in Ireland have
demonstrated time and time again that they have difficulty with true
understanding of the phrase "technology journalist", with very little
exception. Consumers and small businesspeople quite often simply don't
understand what involved.
No, what truly pisses me off is the arrogant cynicism that comes from people
who actually do understand all of this. Of all people, it's the techies here
and elsewhere that truly understand the problems involved, and more
importantly, the quickest and most effective way of fixing them. But what do
they do? Do they write letters to their TD's, or organise protests, or
arrange to get the key parties involved into a room together? No, they slag
off the people who really are trying to do something. And when taken to task
on this, when told just how damaging their criticism is, all we're left with
is an awkward silence.
I've suffered this personally. I've heard it all - the cynical jokes, the
cruel jibes, even the vicious stabs at the people involved. It's not new to
me, but it really is getting old to me. I'm truly pissed off with it, I've
had enough. Of all people, it's the Linux users of Ireland that I would I
would expect this most from, because of their cynical arrogance, and that
annoys me, because I know from meeting many of you that you're better than
that. And I have to admit that I find it exceptionally ironic, because most
Linux users I know have the most to gain from the rollout of these services.
And that's ultimately what we want, rollouts. Frankly, the suggestion made
on this list earlier today, that IrelandOffline was somehow responsible for
the delay in rollout of DSL is ludicrous, if not one of the stupidest
comments I've ever seen on ILUG - and that's a statement in itself.
IrelandOffline didn't ask the ODTR to delay the rollout (even if we had, you
can be damn sure she wouldn't have taken any notice of us) and in fact if
ILUG members actually took the time to participate in the IrelandOffline
community, they would know that.
We've stated many, many times that our primary goal is to get these services
out there, and that although we are concerned - hugely concerned - about
pricing and the questionable caps and overage charges being proposed by
Eircom, that's an issue we're quite happy to deal with later. Why anyone
would choose to believe that IrelandOffline is to blame for the delay quite
honestly mystifies me, when the ultimate responsibility lies with the
company we *all* love to hate, Eircom. Why are you kicking us, the relative
weaklings, when the mighty Eircom is to blame? Were you schoolyard bullies?
Etain Doyle stalled the rollout because the difference between the wholesale
product and the retail product caused a margin squeeze, period. It's not
rocket science, it's Economics 101. If the ODTR had allowed Eircom to roll
out i-Scream with the proposed retail and wholesale prices, it would be
available to the exchanges already converted in Dublin, and nowhere else.
And it'd be quite likely that the service would have been discontinued after
a few months anyway, because there would have been no competition, and no
take-up. Why? Because it's simply too expensive, both for ISP's and
And what was Eircom's answer to this? Put the retail price up. Make the
product even less attractive to the retail consumer, and leave the ISP's in
the untenable and unviable position they were in. And Etain Doyle certainly
couldn't accept that, so DSL is delayed, and you're pissed off. Well, boo
hoo, you're not the only one. I want - need, in fact - DSL just as much as
the rest of you, but I still applaud Etain Doyle's decision. It was the
right thing to do. The only hidden agenda here is Eircom's, and they're so
thick it's not even hidden.
So I'll say it again: Why are you kicking us, the relative weaklings, when
the mighty Eircom is to blame? We're doing something - talking to the press,
spreading the message, educating people, lobbying politicians, talking to
the ODTR, writing letters. What are you doing? Coming on ILUG and
complaining that we're holding things up, when you're absolutely and utterly
wrong. Laughing at the group because it's not professional (by definition I
might add), and you think it's not doing things right. Sitting on your arse
and complaining, over and over, like a broken record. And that's helpful
Helpful is getting off your butt and doing something. If you don't like the
way we're doing things, get it changed. If you don't like the current
committee, put yourself forward and take our places. If you have a better
way of doing things, tell us. But don't expect me to feel sorry for you not
having DSL. Perhaps if the Irish Internet users had supported previous
groups instead of bickering between themselves like children, we would all
have DSL by now. Perhaps we would, but we don't, and IrelandOffline is
trying to do something about it. Perhaps it's time you supported them.
It's not as if we're asking much. All we want you to do is not connect to
the Internet for one day, replace your website with an IrelandOffline page,
and tell your friends. If you can do more, we'd be delighted to see it, but
that's all we ask. In just 12 hours, it's drawn the attention of two popular
websites, a national newspaper and two radio stations, and it's nearly two
weeks before it begins. We have a real chance to educate people here, and we
need your help to do it. So please, put aside the cutting cynicism for a
couple of weeks, and help us out. After all, we're trying to help you.
And if we're wrong, you'll be right, and you can say "I told you so."
Thanks, and apologies for my verbosity.
Adam Beecher - Acting PRO, IrelandOffline
Users Bringing Affordable Internet Access To Ireland
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