A recent report from Comreg has thrown up some interesting though not entirely surprising findings.

The survey took in 1,003 people aged 15-74 and focused on measuring attitudes to and usage of information and communications technologies and services by consumers.

Some of the findings appear obvious such as mobile phone penetration increasing while fixed line continues to decline. In line with that, spending on fixed line is also diminishing. No doubt due to the economy, spend on mobile services is falling. The average spend in December 2008 was €41 per month. That is now down to just over €36 month-on-month. Broadband spend, for this survey, was just below €34 per month.

Internet access from the home has remained much the same at 66% but people are now spending more time per week online. This number is up three hours from last year's 10 hour figure.

Do you know what speed your broadband connection is? No? Then you are not alone – 40% of respondents to this survey admitted they did not know what the speed of their connection was.

And finally, the popularity and recognition of value in bundled services is on the increase with 40% of people now having some sort of bundle offering be it double or triple play.

With the economy continually reeling from the latest banking disclosures, I can virtually guarantee that people's online lives and internet usage will continue to grow -- that is if they can afford to pay for the broadband line. And that is another reason why bundled services that offer phone, broadband and TV will continue to gain popularity. In that regard, it will be interesting to see next year's figures

Eircom's promises

Eircom customers were no doubt curious to see their provider promising that its next generation network (NGN) would deliver speeds of up to 8Mb to all in an uncontended service.

Superficially, this announcement from the former state telco looks promising but lobby group Ireland Offline recently issued a press release that pointed a finger at what seems, in its opinion, to be a disingenuous offer from Eircom.

Ireland Offline said the service was not next generation nor would it be delivered to the vast majority of consumers. It also said that NGN networks are usually delivered by fibre and this product was "not anything like that… this is purely 'marketing speak' as almost everything else remains exactly the same."

What could be changing, however, is the users' bill. Ireland Offline claims the charging policy will mean a 200% increase on the average Eircom customer's bill.

The telecommunications lobby group said that Eircom's NGN Broadband Basic package has a "minuscule 10Gb cap barely enough for the average 'tech savvy' family". It also claimed that this package will cost €50 for all but the lightest users. "That's €50 plus line rental making the total €75.36 per month. This is hardly a giant leap forward, it's more like a gigantic leap into the dark past and into your wallet".

Blogging a pulitzer

There has always been something of a tension between traditional journalists and their online counterparts be they bloggers or otherwise. While "newspaper people" want to protect their patch and provide what they believe to be an invaluable information service to the public, online journalists want to gain the respect they feel they deserve for publishing live news and, in the case of the best blogs, more expert opinion.

While many traditional journalists in Ireland can point to the lowliest provincial paper still having more readers than the country's most read blog, the online writer can take some solace in the fact that one of America's biggest journalistic prizes has been awarded, for the first time, to an online writer.

A journalist writing in collaboration between online news service ProPublica and the New York Times magazine won an award for investigative reporting.

So with online hacks picking up Pulitzers does this pave the way for bloggers to get a piece of the action?

Online writers and bloggers have proved that you can break hard hitting stories outside of newspapers and magazines. With that in mind here is what the Pulitzer rules say: "Entries for journalism awards must be based on material coming from a text-based United States newspaper or news site that publishes at least weekly during the calendar year and that adheres to the highest journalistic principles."

Are prizes such as the Pulitzer and other awards of their ilk throughout the world losing credibility by failing to take in the newer media platforms and news streams?

While there is plenty of room at the table for everyone it would be interesting if some awards were open to all platforms for news sources, reporting, opinion and article writing.