Broadband

Your complete guide to broadband in Ireland

Whether you want super fast internet speeds, cheaper prices or a terrific new TV bundle - our complete guide to broadband has everything you need, including the best broadband deals from Ireland’s top providers.

Part 1

Broadband in Ireland

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Part 2

Types of broadband connection

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Part 3

Choosing a broadband deal

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Part 4

Switching your broadband

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Part 1

Broadband in Ireland

What is a broadband network?

A broadband network is the infrastructure - copper, fibre-optic, or coaxial cables - that supports your broadband connection. Access to each network can depend on where you live.

Open eir, SIRO or Virgin Media’s network are some of Ireland’s main broadband networks.

Broadband providers in Ireland

Broadband providers use the networks to sell services; usually internet and TV packages, as well as mobile deals and home phone lines. Some of the main residential providers are:

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broadband rollout

The National Broadband Plan

The Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver 46,000 kilometres of fibre to over half a million homes - giving high-speed broadband to 96% of Ireland.

You can search their network map to see if your area is included in the national rollout.

Average internet speed in Ireland

The majority of broadband connections in Ireland range from 24Mbps to 100Mbps. In a study of broadband speeds, Ireland ranked 27th out of 47 EU countries with an average of 72Mbps.

Although some rural areas are still waiting for super fast broadband, networks are being rolled out all the time. Irish providers like SIRO offer speeds of up to 1,000Mbps to some areas, with fibre-optic cables running directly into homes (fibre-to-the-home / FTTH).

Virgin Media also offers speeds of up to 1,000Mbps, via its own network.

How fast is your broadband?

Check your speed

best broadband deals

How to find the best internet in your area

Not everyone has the same choice when it comes to broadband networks or providers.

The Government has created a High Speed Broadband Map that allows you to see if commercial or state broadband providers will be providing high-speed broadband to your area.

Check out the fibre rollout map from eir, the SIRO rollout map, or our broadband checker for the best broadband deals in your area.

Find broadband deals where you live

Part 2

Types of broadband connection

Most broadband services come into your home via fixed lines such as phone lines, cable or fibre-optic networks. Others are wireless, and come via mobile data, radio signals or data from a satellite dish.

Access to certain broadband connections, like full fibre, depend on where you live and what networks are in your area.

Wired broadband

Wireless broadband

Fibre and part fibre broadband

Fibre broadband uses a network of fibre-optic cables rather than the older copper ones. Fibre-optic material is better at transferring data, so the internet connection is faster and more reliable.

It is the fastest type of broadband, and is best for streaming TV, online gaming and watching HD films.

There are two ways to connect fibre broadband:

  1. Fibre to the Home (FTTH): delivers fibre the whole way to the home and offers speeds of up to 1,000Mbps.
  2. Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC): delivers fibre to the nearest cabinet on the street, and from there, older copper cables deliver the connection to your home. It’s also known as part fibre.

Although part fibre broadband needs a phone cable, many providers will offer packages without charging for a call plan.

How fast is fibre broadband?

Although full fibre broadband can be more expensive than other types of broadband, its reliable, high speed connection means you can complete tasks like email and uploading files much faster, and enjoy consistent, lag-free HD streaming and gaming. You also don’t need a landline.

Speeds listed below can vary depending on things like your device, your router, and the amount of people using the internet.

Up to 4 X

Faster than ADSL

250Mbps

Standard speed

1GMbps

Max Speed

Mobile broadband

Mobile broadband connects you to the internet using a mobile phone network, either 4G or 5G. You can connect via:

  • Mobile dongle: This plugs into the USB port on your computer.
  • Data only SIM card: Insert into a portable tablet for use on the go.
  • WiFi hub: This is portable and acts as a WiFi hotspot for your devices.

It can be a good option for those who want the flexibility of internet on the go, or those who don’t have access to other forms of broadband. The speed you get depends on your provider’s coverage of the 4G or 5G network and the strength of your signal.

Pros

  • Broadband on the go
  • No lengthy contract
  • Available in rural areas

Cons

  • 4G is usually slower with more lag
  • No installation charges or set up costs
  • Service and speeds can fluctuate

satellite broadband

How good is satellite broadband?

Satellite broadband is a type of wireless broadband that uses a satellite dish. Once installed in your home, the dish sends and receives data to a satellite in space.

  • Can be connected to any home
  • Faster than ADSL in rural areas
  • Can be expensive to install
  • Usually slower than part fibre

ADSL broadband

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is one of the oldest and most widely available broadband connections. It uses existing copper home phone lines to provide internet speeds of up to 24Mbps.

Fixed Wireless broadband

Fixed wireless broadband is a type of broadband connection that uses radio signals to transmit and receive data to a dedicated phone mast.

Cable broadband

Cable broadband connects to your home via fibre-optic and coaxial cables. Fibre-optic cables run to a street cabinet and then coaxial cables connect from the cabinet to your home. It’s faster than ADSL but not as fast as full fibre.

Broadband connections compared

Each broadband provider may offer a different type of broadband connection. The main ones are listed below.

Broadband Connection Speeds up to* Provider e.g. Details  
ADSL Copper cables 24Mbps Digiweb, eir, Pure Telecom, Sky & Vodafone Widely available, slower speeds  
Full Fibre (FTTH) Fibre-optic 1,000Mbps (1Gbps) Digiweb, eir, Sky, Virgin Media & Vodafone Fastest speeds. Siro still expanding network  
Part Fibre (FTTC) Fibre-optic and copper 100Mbps eir, Sky, Virgin Media & Vodafone Wider availability than full fibre  
Cable Fibre-optic and coaxial 1,000Mbps Virgin Media Can average faster than part fibre  
Satellite Data from satellite 100Mbps Konnect Option for rural internet users  
Mobile 4G or 5G 25Mbps (4G) 1Gbps (5G) eir, Imagine, Three, & Vodafone, Option for those on the go, or if you live rurally  
Fixed wireless radio signals from mast 100Mbps Echo Broadband, Rural Wifi, and Wireless Connect No landline needed, good for certain rural spots  

*Speeds listed are possible maximum speeds. Speeds offered and experienced will depend on the service providers, user traffic, distance to the cabinet or phone mast, and the coverage in your area.

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Broadband checker

Part 3

Choosing a broadband deal

There are plenty of broadband deals and providers to choose from, all with different connection types, speeds, bundles and add-ons. Here’s how to pick the right one.

Comparing broadband deals

Before switching to a new broadband provider, there’s a few things to consider:

  • Availability: check to see what broadband providers operate in your area first, using the broadband checker.
  • Budget: weigh up the monthly cost with the level of internet speed and TV content you’ll actually use, then budget it into your outgoings.
  • Speed: different networks provide different connection types with varying levels of speed. Consider the speed you need, based on things like how you use the internet and how many people are in your house.
  • Bundles: if you want broadband, TV and phone you can save by bundling all three together. It means just one monthly bill too.
  • Offers: focus on lead in prices, discounts and set up costs, before looking at any extras, like free devices or credit off your bill.
  • Data limits: the trend is toward unlimited data plans, but if your plan has a data limit, check the fair use policy and any fees for exceeding data limits.
  • Contract length: most plans last 12 months. Consider possible increases after any initial introductory offers.

There are plenty of broadband providers to choose from, who compete to offer the cheapest deals, fastest speeds or free add-ons like Amazon Prime video or Sports Passes.

Broadband and TV deals

Broadband providers offer different types of broadband packages. TV and Broadband is the most popular, while broadband only is the cheapest.

Broadband only

An internet-only deal that may still come with a phone line, but no call plan.

Learn more

Broadband and phone

A package with internet and a landline call plan.

Learn more

Broadband and TV

A popular option, and you can choose to add on channels if needed.

Learn more

Broadband bundles

Save with triple-play deal that includes a call plan, broadband and TV.

Learn more

tv and broadband deals

Choosing a broadband and TV package

The main providers of broadband and TV packages are eir, Sky, Virgin Media and Vodafone.

When comparing broadband and TV deals, think about:

  • Channels: There are plenty of TV packages with a mixture of sport, movies and streaming services included, and you can add on extras too. Only choose a plan that matches your viewing habits.
  • Streaming services: Consider if you want to add on a streaming service. Sometimes providers may also offer free access for a limited time.
  • An extra TV box: Do you need TV in more than one room? You’ll usually pay extra for another box, with an additional monthly subscription for multiscreen viewing.
  • Speed: A deal with full fibre is more reliable and speedy, but pricier, too. See if other plans suit your needs before splurging.
  • Landline: If you don’t want a landline, many providers won’t charge you for a call plan.
  • Installation costs: Some providers offer free installation, but others may need an upfront charge.

TV channels

All the main providers - Eir, Sky, Virgin Media and Vodafone - offer broadband and TV packages.

Depending on your budget, you can choose broadband and standard TV channels, or spend a bit more and add on Sky Sports, Netflix or Sky Cinema.

  • Sky TV: Sky Cinema has 12 movie channels, and a new film premiere every day. Sky has hundreds of movies on demand and you can also buy and keep movies from the Sky Store.
  • eir TV: Get access to Film 4 and TCM as standard. You can also choose to add on Sky Cinema, for an additional monthly charge.
  • Virgin Media TV: Get access to Virgin Movies & Box Sets as standard. You can also add on Sky Cinema for a monthly fee.
  • Vodafone TV: Get access to Film 4 as standard. You can also choose to add on Sky Cinema for a monthly fee.

Should you choose the cheapest broadband deal?

Broadband suppliers are always competing to offer the lowest broadband prices, but the cheapest deal is not always the best value and may not suit your household needs.

Check our comparison for the cheapest broadband deals in your area, but also compare other features such as the discount period, contract length and connection speed.

What is a good internet speed?

Broadband speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Some Irish providers offer speeds of up to 1,000Mbps to certain areas with full fibre or ‘Fibre-to-the-Home’ connections from SIRO or cable networks, but super-fast broadband is not always necessary.

There are two speed types:

  • Download speed: how quickly you can download things like movies, images and music.
  • Upload speed: how quickly you can send emails and upload pictures to social media or google drive.

The speed you need depends on your internet usage, as well as how many people live with you.

Activity Speed required  
Gaming online At least 10Mbps  
Downloading movies quickly Around 50Mbps  
Streaming movies in UHD At least 25Mbps  
Checking/sending emails 1-5Mbps  
Using social media 1-5Mbps  
Watching Netflix in HD At least 5Mbps  
Making a Skype video call Around 1.5Mbps  
Streaming music Around 2Mbps  

Usually, 50-100Mbps will suffice for a typical household, but extreme gamers and movie streamers will need slightly more.

How to check your broadband speed

You can use Switcher.ie’s Broadband Speed Test below to check your current upload and download speeds. Running the test a few times at different times of the day will give you a better idea.

To get the most accurate result:

  • Exit all other programs: e.g. games, background programs and open windows
  • Cancel streams/downloads: e.g. radio, music players or video
  • Turn off wireless appliances: e.g. baby monitors, cordless doorbells
  • Turn off devices: that are connected to the internet or router

How fast is your broadband?

Check your speed

Part 4

Switching your broadband

Broadband providers usually reserve their best deals for new customers. Introductory discounts can last between 12-24 months but once they’re over, you’ll have to pay the standard price.

Switching your broadband every year could mean lower monthly costs, better connection speeds and data limits, as well as better customer service.

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Before you switch

Here are some things to consider before you start the switching process:

  • Availability: Check what broadband is available where you live first.
  • Current provider: If you’re happy with your current provider, contact them to negotiate. They might try to entice you to stay with another discount.
  • Cancellation notice: Check with your current provider that there’s no cancellation fees, and you’re free to switch.
  • Your needs: Know exactly what you’re looking for. This will help you to switch to the right provider with the right plan. Research things like broadband speed, connection type and TV packages.

Eight steps to switch

Now you’re ready to switch. Here’s how:

  1. Compare: The best broadband-only, broadband and TV, and broadband mobile deals on Switcher.ie
  2. Read the Plan Info: Once you’ve chosen a deal, check out the ‘Plan Info’ to understand the costs and any terms and conditions.
  3. Complete form: If you’re happy, you’ll need to complete a quick form on Switcher.ie with your contact details and who your current provider is.
  4. Additional details: When you’ve completed the form, your new provider will be in touch to set up your account, and you’ll need to give them a few more details.
  5. Notice: Give your current broadband provider the relevant notice, and cancel your contract.
  6. Agree date: Agree an installation date with your new provider to avoid any interruption in service.
  7. Cancel direct debits: It’s a good idea to cancel any direct debits to your old provider, once your account is closed.
  8. Cooling off period: Take note of the 14-day cooling off period once you’re signed up to your new plan, as you can cancel without any penalties during this time.

Ready to compare broadband deals?

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Broadband FAQs

How do I know if I have fibre broadband?

Most broadband plans should be listed on your online account or bill. If not, you can also use a speed test to roughly gauge.

Although this is much less accurate it might give you an idea, as higher speeds usually mean full-fibre broadband.

  • Speeds of up to 100 Mbps are typically DSL, cable or fixed wireless.
  • A speed result of 200-1,000 Mbps means you have either cable or fiber-optic internet service.

Do providers need to alert me if my contract is due to end?

While some broadband providers might notify customers that their contract is due to end, they’re not legally obligated to. Each provider will have different contract terms, so it’s a good idea to read the terms and conditions of any plan before signing up.

What TV packages come with Netflix?

Sky broadband TV and broadband packages comes with Netflix. You’ll also get features like:

  • Access to exclusive content
  • Ability to pause, rewind & record live TV
  • Access to content on the go

How can you get broadband without a landline?

Part fibre and ADSL broadband require a phone line, but many broadband providers offer packages that use a phone cable but don’t charge you for a call plan.

There are alternatives if you can’t have a phone line, such as:

  • Mobile broadband
  • Full fibre (FTTH) broadband
  • Satellite broadband
  • Cable broadband

How do you cancel your broadband?

If you want to switch providers or cancel any of your services, contact your supplier directly by phone, in writing or online.

It’s a good idea to have the following information ready:

  • Your name and address as they appear on your bill
  • Your UAN number (Universal Account Number - a unique, eight-digit number that identifies the line that carries * broadband and phone signals to a home).
  • Your landline telephone number including area code
  • Which service(s) you wish to cancel or move to a new provider
  • If you’re cancelling due to a problem with your broadband service, check your consumer rights first

How do you tell if broadband is down in your area?

One way of seeing if your broadband is down is to use a website like Downdetector. It contains crowd sourced information to inform people of internet connection issues. Here are other ways to check:

  • eir broadband down: you can see previous broadband faults if you log into your ‘my eir’ account.
  • Vodafone internet down: you can contact Vodafone directly to report a fault or to talk through any connectivity issues.
  • Sky broadband down: You can visit Sky’s troubleshooting page to see if there are internet outages. You can also run a check on your own connection.

What’s the difference between Wi-Fi, the internet and broadband?

Broadband is a high speed internet connection, usually in the form of a cable. This cable can be plugged into a router (a small black box that passes on the data).

Wi-Fi is a signal sent from the router, to connect a device like your computer or phone to the internet - the worldwide network of computers that pass information between them. .

Do trees affect broadband speed?

If you have fixed wireless or mobile broadband, it’s possible that trees are blocking your WiFi. Homes that are surrounded by large trees may find it beneficial to rearrange their WiFi router for a stronger signal.

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