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Internet Service Providers' Association of Ireland

The voice of the Online Industry in Ireland

How We Started

The Internet Service Providers’ Association of Ireland (ISPAI) was established at an inaugural meeting held in Dublin at Shelbourne Hotel, in April 1997, by the leading Irish Internet Service Providers operating at that time: Telecom Internet, EuNet, Club Internet, Indigo and Ireland On-line. On 5th May 1998 the ISPAI was registered as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee of its members, under Company Number 285632.

At the time of establishment ISPAI’s mission was to: provide and foster standardised practice in respect of Internet performance; promote accurate and unbiased media coverage of Internet Service Providers; encourage an open and competitive environment; shape policy through Industry coalition building, lobbying activities and by providing a focal point for discussion with political groups and others likely to impact Internet governance.

Progress and innovation over the last two decades has significantly changed the landscape in respect to, among other things: [1] delivery of Internet services (i.e. infrastructure, coverage, speeds, etc.); [2] widespread availability of affordable Internet connected devices; [3] social and cultural change brought by technological advancements; and [4] constantly evolving digital technologies at ever-increasing pace.

It’s hard to imagine a world without the Internet today but that wasn’t the case 20 years ago:

  • In 1992 the 1st consumer-focused Internet provider (Ireland On-line) with a dial-up Internet connection over the home telephone line was offering connection with speeds of up to 14Kbit/s.
  • In Ireland the WI-FI technology was made available in 1999 but only to business IT users, and it was still tied to a landline with coverage being extremely limited beyond the office environment.
  • The 1st mainstream broadband services were introduced across Ireland in early 2000s, providing always-on Internet, limited thus to business premises. With the roll-out of WI-FI technology it was now possible to hot desk across the building.
  • It was not until 2003 that broadband was made available to households.
  • In terms of online platforms, the first widespread social networking platform was launched in 2003, Facebook was launched in 2004, while Twitter in 2006.
  • YouTube [video-streaming platform] was launched in 2005.
  • 2006 Vodafone, O2 and Three began to offer mobile broadband by deploying 3G technology across Ireland, but it was not until 2008 that 3G mobile networks significantly increased browsing speed and open up the world of online video.
  • 2007 first smartphones became available.

When ISPAI was established [1997] the Online Industry in Ireland consisted of approximately five Internet Service Providers.

Today, the Online Industry comprises of Internet infrastructure services and Internet application services. Internet infrastructure services would include Internet access, hosting and domain name registration, Internet data centre and content delivery network services; while Internet application services i.e. eMail box, search engine, instant messaging and other new application services.

Recognising all the above, in March 2017, ISPAI engaged in an overhaul of its governance through a members’ consultation process scoping the views of the membership in respect of the fundamental principles and structures on which ISPAI has been run and financed since 1998. In addition, the wider ISPAI policy and lobbying remit, given the changing regulatory environment and the concern of certain members that collegiate lobbying is less compelling than when ISPAI was established, where such activities are being carried out on a bilateral or pan-European basis, was examined.

In July 2017, it was decided through membership vote that ISPAI’s main regulatory activity would focus on issues that relate to the illegal and harmful use of the Internet, while continuing to manage and enforce the Industry Code of Practice and Ethics and deliver the Hotline.ie service on behalf of its members.

The Internet’s capacity to facilitate the storage and transfer of billions of files, to host communities of like-minded Internet users, and to allow both on an international scale; additionally, technological change continuing apace, make Online Safety a matter of public interest and policy where cybercrime, legislation, corporate social responsibility and child protection intersect.

ISPAI is an integrated part of the Irish Safer Internet Centre, alongside Webwise, ISPCC-Childline and National Parents Council Primary, with a shared mission of making the Internet a safer and more positive environment for children and young people. The Irish Safer Internet Centre is co-ordinated by the Department of Justice and Equality, Office for Internet Safety, and is one of 30 Safer Internet Centres in Europe.