Ireland’s broadband subscriptions (fixed and mobile) continued to increase, to reach a total of 1,509,934 at the end of March 2010, according to the country’s telecom regulator. This is a 4.6% increase over the total at the end of 2009.

The fixed broadband penetration rate reached 22.4% in the first quarter. The broadband per capita penetration rate (including mobile broadband) was 33.9%.

The trend in Ireland, as in many other countries, is towards higher speed broadband access.  According to Akamai, which measures the speed of broadband traffic over its global server network, the average access speed in Ireland is 3.7 Mbps.  Speeds are increasing, however, as cable television operator UPC reports that half of its broadband subscribers are now using the company’s 15 Mbps and 30 Mbps service, while national carrier Eircom recently reached the 100,000 subscriber mark for its 8-Mbps Next Generation Broadband product, which is running ahead of schedule.  The carrier also has a 24-Mbps offering.

In addition, Eircom is testing 150 Mbps fiber-to-the-home technology, while UPC is rolling out 100 Mbps service.  UPC recently reported that as of the end of June, it had reached 170,000 broadband subscribers.

Ireland is rapidly becoming the European home for many leading global Internet companies, including such giants as Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google and Microsoft – all of which have situated their European headquarters in Dublin.

International carriers are responding to this growth.  U.S.-based carriers’ carrier Level 3 is investing in a fiber optic network in Dublin that will eventually be linked to its Yellow transatlantic fiber optic cable in the United Kingdom.