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3 Ireland's broadband stumbles to its knees

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3 Ireland's fixed broadband service is still unable to provide consistent connections, decent speeds, or access to standard e-mail interfaces, according to their users, despite repeated promises and assurances that everything is working fine.

While 3 might well employ a good PR representative, they don't seem to be backing that up with the engineering expertise needed to run the network.

Customers are complaining of connections frequently dropping out, and web sites disappearing from the network with a regularity which makes the service unusable.

The speed of HSDPA connections is very dependent on the distance to the nearest cell, so customers in rural areas will inevitably suffer from slow speeds. And while some users in towns do report decent connections it's the consistency of the connection which seems to be causing most problems.

For many applications, such as Telnet, VPNs and FTP, the speed of the connection is much less important than its consistency; the connection must be maintained or the activity is interrupted and is forced start again.

But 3's inability to manage an SMTP service, the most basic of requirements for e-mail service, beggars belief. Though there are IP-addressing problems with running a server on a mobile network, all the other major network operators seem to manage this with the minimum of fuss.

When we spoke to 3 they again assured us everything was fixed and working fine, and that SMTP would be available really soon. But they also admitted they've not changed anything since a week ago when they last told us everything was working fine. ®

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