What is rural broadband?
Rural broadband essentially just refers to broadband that’s available in more rural parts of Ireland. Broadband in rural areas can sometimes lack the reliability and speed of broadband in larger urban areas.
I live in rural Ireland - what are my options for broadband?
Traditionally, broadband availability and speed in rural Ireland has been an issue - primarily because it’s more difficult to reach these areas with the required cabling. However, options for rural broadband have gotten better in recent years, and services are improving all the time. Some of the broadband options if you’re living in a rural area include:
- Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) broadband uses an existing home phone line to provide an internet connection of up to 24Mb.
- You’ll need a home phone line installed in order to avail of ADSL broadband.
- 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 €45 per month.
- Satellite broadband is set up in a household through the installation of a satellite dish, and provides speeds of up to 30Mb.
- 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.
- Mobile broadband is provided to customers through a mobile phone signal.
- The technology used to provide mobile broadband is the same as the one that lets you use your mobile phone, so many mobile network carriers offer mobile broadband via mobile dongles and 4G SIMs.
- Mobile broadband can be really useful, but 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 on mobile broadband plans, as these can be quite low, and the charges for going above the limit tend to be steep.
Fibre broadband may not be an option for people in rural areas, but it’s worth checking what’s available where you live, as providers like Virgin Media and eir, amongst others, are rolling out in more and more places all the time.
How do I compare rural broadband?
Comparing rural broadband deals is easy using our comparison tool. When you’re reviewing plans, think about:
- Price. This will probably be the most important factor when it comes to choosing a broadband package.
- Type of connection and broadband speed. The speed you need will depend on what you’ll be using the broadband for, and the speeds available to you will depend on the types of broadband and providers operating in your area.
- Contract length. It’s important to be sure of this before signing up so you know how long you’ll be tied into your plan.
- Discount period. Sometimes discounts last for the whole contract length, and other times they’re for a shorter period, so make sure you check this before signing up.
- Set-up costs. Some providers offer free installation, while with others there’ll be an upfront charge - this may depend on the type of broadband you opt for, too.
What is the best rural broadband-only deal?
The best rural broadband plan for you will depend on what’s important to you.
Can I add TV or phone to my plan?
If you want to go for a deal that includes phone and/or TV with your broadband, you will be able to do this with some packages. This will depend on the provider you opt for, and the type of broadband connection - for example, as ADSL broadband runs through phone lines, you will usually be able to include home phone as part of an ADSL package.
- If you want to get a TV and broadband package, there are 4 main providers in the Irish market - eir, Sky, Virgin Media and Vodafone. The Mix 240 plan from Virgin Media is the cheapest package on the market at the moment.
- Meanwhile, if you just want to bundle broadband and phone, Pure Telecom offers the cheapest plan.
- You can also opt for a triple-play package, which comes with broadband, phone and TV all in one. The cheapest broadband, TV and phone package on the market at the moment is the Mix 240 plan from Virgin Media.
What is SIRO?
SIRO is a joint venture company between ESB and Vodafone which is working to deliver a 100% fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) broadband network using the existing ESB network.
SIRO is offered on an open-access basis to all telecoms retailers in Ireland - Airwire, Vodafone, Sky, Digiweb, Carnsore Broadband, Rocket Broadband, WestNet and Kerry Broadband have all partnered with SIRO to offer services to customers. So far, over 120,000 premises are covered with SIRO’s network.
SIRO technology offers 1Gb download and upload speeds, so it’s fair to say that the rollout will have a big impact on consumers in Ireland.