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Isle of Man: E-Commerce

Hosting and ISP Facilities

In 1996 the Isle of Man Government obtained permission to use the .im National Top Level Domain (TLD) and has ultimate responsibility for its use. A naming committee consisting of representatives from the Manx Government and local industry considers all domain applications.

There are in fact 14 Internet Service Providers on the Isle of Man, all of whom also offer hosting facilities. The island has quite good connectivity - the Isle of Man is served by both Microwave Radio and Fibre Optic Submarine Cable links to the UK. The cable has five fibre optic pairs capable of carrying some 23,000 simultaneous telephone calls. A Satellite Earth Station also offers digital or analogue links to international destinations including Europe and the USA.

Telecommunications services are provided by Manx Telecom, previously a subsidiary of BT, but now part of Spain's Telefonica group via BT's mobile business offshoot O2. This monopoly situation has not so far been a major problem for e-commerce development on the Isle of Man, due to the very advanced facilities BT has to offer; but long term, it could become a concern, especially since Manx Telecom offers its own ISP and hosting services, and could apparently use pricing constraints to limit local competition. The Manx government has addressed this issue through the installation of an additional fibre-optic cable link to the mainland, operated jointly by the Manx Electricity Authority and the UK's National Grid.

Legislation passed in October, 2003, allows the Manx Electricity Authority to use its undersea fibre-optic cable network to provide telecommunications services and significantly increase the island’s broadband capabilities. MEA’s Chief Executive, Mike Proffitt, said that the Authority can provide broadband at speeds of 16 megabits per second, significantly faster than the previous high end of half a megabit. He also indicated that the venture would not require additional sums of investment as the infrastructure is largely in place and the MEA can supply homes and businesses via the existing copper cable network.

The Isle of Man has close to 100% broadband coverage after Manx telecom upgraded six remaining telephone exchanges with ADSL-enabling equipment making the island potentially one of the most attractive high speed internet locations in Europe.

In September, 2009, the Manx government announced that broadband population penetration has reached 31.7% with household penetration at 72.3%. It further said that in 2008 average European broadband penetration by population stood at 22.9%.

Since launching the service, Manx Telecom says that it has made a multi-million pound investment in Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) core equipment, providing unrivalled levels of coverage - 99.8% - compared to other European countries. Furthermore, price reductions and increased availability have seen its popularity soar.

ADSL technology provides broadband Internet access over a standard telephone line, effectively "splitting" the line so that it can be used simultaneously for both voice calls and high-speed Internet browsing.

The Isle of Man became one of the first ten countries in the world with ADSL broadband services when Manx Telecom first enabled the Douglas exchange in March 2000 to offer business broadband services. By June 2001 both business and residential ADSL broadband services had been rolled out to Ramsey, Castletown, Peel, Port Erin and Marown exchanges, and by June 2003 all eleven exchanges on the Island had been ADSL-enabled.

The take-up of broadband has also been supported by the Isle of Man Government's policy of subsidising initial connection charges to customers.

In January 2009, Manx Telecom announced the completion of a major upgrade to the Island’s telecommunications network. The upgrade was part of Manx Telecom’s GBP25m Next Generation Network project which enables personal and business customers to access and manipulate voice calls, data, television, and video, on one seamless ‘converged’ network. Manx Telecom offers private and business customers a choice of broadband connections, with download speeds ranging from 16Mbps to 40Mbps.

Implementing the Next Generation Network, which took place during 2009, meant migrating more than 60,000 fixed lines to the new digital platform. The Next Generation Network represents one of the biggest investments in technology the Island has ever seen and meant the Island became the first country in the world to have everything running off one secure converged Telecoms network.



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