Showing posts from April, 2009

How We Blew the Boom

I saw a very interesting documentary recently that did a very good job of explaining how the Irish economy went so wrong so quickly.

Boxer does a runner

Boxer has decided not to go ahead with its plans to offer commercial DTT channels in Ireland. One wonders if they thought the whole thing through properly in the first place. Between the cable companies and Sky, pretty much everyone in Ireland who wants more than the four national channels, has more. Boxer would have had to compete either on choice (impossible given the bandwidth constraints) or cost. Certainly offering the basic selection of UK stations and a few more for about EUR10 a month would be attractive to many since the entry level pricing for cable and satellite is the order of EUR30 a month. However satellite customers wanting to pay less can just cancel their subscriptions (as I have done) and get the UK free-to-air channels free anyway. The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland is now looking at Plan B. But the consortium that came in second place is a rogues' gallery of companies that I wouldn't have a lot of faith in. The Digital TV rollout is of national str

Ode to the Phonecard

 I don’t remember precisely when Phonecards disappeared from the cultural landscape. They somehow just faded away. Once almost every wallet in Ireland was incomplete without one. I guess I personally stopped using them in the late 90s when I got my first mobile phone. Many people with mobiles continued to use them because they were the best way to make international calls without a home phone. So for collectors of phone cards, and there were many, foreign students were the best source of used cards. Phonecards were obviously, in hindsight, an intermediate stop gap between technologies. Cash payphones were cumbersome and expensive to maintain. Prepaid phonecards allowed phone companies to collect money for calls without physically having to go to collect the cash. Mobile phones were expensive to use and required minimum monthly commitments. But when mobile phone companies began offering prepaid mobile calls, the phonecard’s days were numbered. Anyone who was organized enough to pr