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Irish Net users are hoping for nationwide support next week when it protests against the lack of unmetered dial-up and broadband Net access and the impact it's having on the economy.

The "IrelandOffline Blackout" is scheduled to take place on Friday, November 16. The organisers hope that consumers and businesses alike will make their voices heard by boycotting the phone and Internet.

IrelandOffline, a well-organised and increasingly vocal pressure group, believes this Internet "strike" is essential to draw attention to the lack of affordable dial-up and broadband services in Ireland.

It claims that unless something is done now the country risks falling behind in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

Despite the lack of progress so far, the lobbyists believe that Ireland can be kick-started back into competitiveness, but only if there is a commitment to make these products and services available.

In a statement the group said: "The primary aim of the 'Blackout' is to draw attention to the problems in the telecommunications industry in Ireland, and to educate consumers and businesspeople about these problems and how they can be fixed.

"We are categorically not attempting to disrupt business in Ireland. In the long term, in fact, we are trying to improve it," the organisers said.

IrelandOffline hopes that business and Net users will replace their Web sites with a protest page for the day. It also hopes Net users will abstain from using the Internet or telephone in a concerted effort to attract attention to their cause.

The roll-out of DSL in Ireland was delayed in September following the intervention of the telecoms regulator who wanted incumbent telco eircom to submit revised wholesale pricing proposals and to provide evidence that its pricing proposals did not breach competition laws. ®

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IrelandOffline Blackout

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