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What is the fastest broadband I can get?

Broadband speed is becoming increasingly important.

The biggest complaint most of us have about our broadband is that it’s not fast enough. In fact, after price, speed is the most important thing we look out for when we’re comparing broadband deals.

Broadband speeds of up to 1,000Mbps - known as ‘lightning speed’ - are now available in certain areas around Ireland, through eir and SIRO’s new networks. But there are still plenty of areas where you will struggle to get even a fraction of that speed. So how can you make sure you’re getting the fastest broadband possible?

What is the fastest broadband plan in Ireland?

Speeds of up to 1,000Mbps are available to relatively small numbers of consumers, but the fastest widely-available broadband plan in Ireland is the Connect 360 plan from Virgin Media, which comes in at €40 for the first 6 months, and €64 thereafter and has speeds of up to 360Mb.

Virgin Media don’t operate in every area around Ireland, so if you haven’t switched broadband in a while and you’re not sure whether you can get their plans where you live, take a look at the broadband plans available in your area to check.

What can I do if I don’t have access to fast broadband?

If you can’t get Virgin Media broadband where you live, there are plenty of other reliable, fast broadband options available - with many providers offering plans with speeds of up to 100Mbps.

This plan from Vodafone is particularly popular - it’s a standalone broadband deal, so it’s great if you don’t need a phone line, and if you watch TV mainly through streaming sites like Netflix or NOW TV and so don’t require a traditional TV deal.

I live in a rural area, can I get fast broadband?

If you live in a very rural area - or you live far from your nearest cabinet or exchange - its likely the speeds you will get will be significantly lower. Some of your options might be:

ADSL/ADSL2 broadband

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) broadband uses an existing home phone line to provide an internet connection of up to 24Mbps.

As this technology uses the phone line in your home, you’ll need a home phone line installed in order to avail of it. It’s also important to note that your distance from the nearest telephone exchange and the quality of your phone connection could impact your speed.

Providers of ADSL broadband include Digiweb, eir, Pure Telecom, Sky, and Vodafone, and introductory prices start at €25 per month. This type of broadband is generally good for those in rural areas as anyone with a phone line can avail of it.

Mobile broadband

Mobile broadband means mobile internet access which is provided to customers through a mobile phone signal.

As the technology used to provide mobile broadband is the same as the one that lets you use your mobile phone, many mobile network carriers offer mobile broadband via mobile dongles and 4G SIMs. Dongles can enable mobile broadband access on laptops and PCs, while 4G SIM cards can be used to gain access to the internet on a tablet.

Mobile broadband can be really useful, especially for people who need access to the internet on the move, however bear in mind that if your mobile phone signal is bad where you live, you’ll likely get poor mobile broadband signal, too.

You’ll also need to keep an eye on data allowances if you opt for a mobile broadband plan, as these can be quite low, and the charges for going above the limit tend to be steep.

Satellite broadband

Satellite broadband is set up in a household through the installation of a satellite dish, and provides speeds of up to 30Mbps.

Although it is slower than other types of broadband, the major benefit of satellite broadband is that it can provide an internet connection to any home - this can be particularly important in rural areas, where laying cables is not possible.

Unlike other broadband, satellite packages will have a cap on downloads - at the moment, these range from 8-50GB per month.

One of the the main providers of satellite broadband in Ireland is Europasat.

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I have a high-speed broadband package, but my actual speeds are low

There are loads of things that can help improve your connection if you have slow broadband - the steps you need to take to improve your speeds will depend on whether or not you connect via WiFi or you’re connected directly by wired connection.

I use WiFi - how can I improve my broadband speed?

First of all, it’s important to remember that you will get slower speeds using WiFi than you would if you were connected directly to the router. If it’s feasible, try connecting your device directly to the router - you should notice a big improvement in speeds.

If you need to use WiFi, there are a number of things you can do to improve your speeds, as follows:

  • make sure the router is not encased in a cabinet or surrounded by things that may block the signal;
  • ensure the modem is not near devices that could interfere with it - like microwaves, baby monitors or cordless phones;
  • move the router into the room where you use the internet most; and/or
  • use a WiFi extender.

If you live in an apartment building or an area with lots of wireless modems and lots of devices you may experience some wireless interference. Simply rebooting your modem - by unplugging it, leaving it for 30 seconds and plugging it back in - will automatically select the most appropriate channel for you.

Also, if you have a large number of devices connected to the WiFi, it may be that one of these is causing an issue. You could try disconnecting all of your devices one by one to see if there’s a particular one that’s causing you a problem.

My wired connection is slow - how can I improve my broadband speed?

If your wired connection is slower than expected, firstly contact your provider. They may be able to give you a newer modem, which could make a big difference, and they may also be able to offer some advice or technical assistance.

If your provider can’t help, you may want to look around and see if you can find a broadband deal with better speeds or a different type of connection. The speeds that are achievable vary hugely depending on the type of connection you have - for example ADSL broadband will be slower than Fibre-to-the-Home - so moving to a provider that offers a different type of connection, if possible, might be the best bet.

Switcher.ie’s free broadband deal checker shows you all of the deals available in your area, along with information on the type of connection, and maximum speeds for each provider.

Can I switch to a faster broadband deal?

If your broadband is slower than you’d like, and you haven’t switched broadband in a while, it’s possible that you could get a faster plan by comparing broadband deals in your area now.

Superfast broadband providers are rolling out to new areas all the time, so there could be new offers and plans available, depending on where you live.

When you’re shopping around, make sure you think about price, contract length, broadband speed and any installation costs, as well as whether or not you want a broadband-only deal or would prefer to bundle your broadband with phone, TV or both.

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