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Broadband speeds in Ireland

After price, speed is probably the most important factor for most of us when we’re choosing a broadband package. A fast, reliable broadband connection is vital for a quality, hassle-free broadband service - watching videos, playing games and downloading music will all be impacted by the broadband connection speed that you are on.

Average Irish broadband speeds

The majority of broadband connections in Ireland range from 24Mbps to 360Mbps, however faster broadband speeds are being rolled out all the time, and some Irish providers are now achieving speeds of up to 1000Mbps with ‘Fibre-to-the-Home’ connections.

Check your broadband speed

What is a good download speed?

This will really depend on what you use the internet for - for example if you only use the internet to check your email, a speed of around 5Mbps is probably sufficient, but most of us are using the internet for a lot more than this these days.

Netflix says it takes 5Mbps to stream its HD content, while the 4k ultra-HD steam requires 25Mbps. Generally, the faster your broadband speed the better, as you’ll be able to carry out all of your online tasks much quicker if you have fast, reliable broadband.

What is a good upload speed?

Again, this depends on what you use the internet for. The vast majority of us probably only upload things like pictures, or attachments on emails. For this kind of activity, an upload speed of 3Mbps is probably sufficient, but the quicker your upload speed, the faster you’ll be able to complete these tasks.

What broadband speed do I need at home?

The broadband speed you actually need will depend massively on how many people live in you home, and what they’re using the internet for. Some common online activities and the speeds they require include:

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  

While each of these things in isolation doesn’t require superfast broadband speeds, if you live in a household with many internet users, who are all connecting various devices, the speed you need will be much higher. Remember also that providers advertise ‘up to’ speeds, and the speed you get is likely to be lower than this, particularly if you’re connecting via WiFi.

If you require fast broadband, your best bet will be to opt for a fibre broadband connection, which generally provides speeds of up to 100Mbps - although Virgin Media has plans with speeds up to 360Mbps, and some providers even offer plans that go up to 1,000Mbps in some areas.

If superfast broadband is not available in your area, don’t worry - you may still be able to get a fast, reliable connection with ADSL broadband or satellite broadband.


How do I check what broadband speed I have now?

A broadband speed test can tell you exactly what your upload and download speeds are - and it’s quick and easy to do with the Switcher.ie Broadband Speed Test.

In order to get the most accurate result, before you run the speed test you should:

  • Exit all other programs, games and windows completely.
  • Cancel any downloads, including those initiated by background programs, and close any programs that require a constant internet connection such as online radio or RSS feeds.
  • Turn off certain appliances, like baby monitors, microwaves and cordless doorbells, as these can interfere with wireless connections.
  • Turn off devices that are connected to the internet, apart from the one you’re testing your speed on.

You should run the test a few times, at different points in the day, to get an overall idea of your speed. And remember that if you really want an accurate reading of the speed coming into your home, the best bet would be to connect to the router with a cable, rather than using WiFi.

How does the speed test work?

When you click ‘Start speed test’, data ‘packets’ are sent from Switcher.ie’s Irish servers to your computer and back again. This is ‘dummy’ broadband data which is designed to allow us to measure the time it takes for the data to reach your computer (the download speed) and be returned to our servers (the upload speed).

Take a broadband speed test

My broadband is slow - how can I speed it up?

Believe it or not, there are actually loads of things that can help improve your connection if you have slow broadband, so you don’t need to suffer unnecessarily. 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.

Do I need to worry about my download allowance, too?

In short, yes - your download allowance is separate from your broadband speed. Your plan’s download limit is the maximum amount of data you are permitted to download per month, including pictures, movies and music.

The size of the files will determine how much of your allowance you use when downloading or streaming. For example, a song might be about 3Mb, while a HD movie could be several gigabytes.

If you have a plan with a download limit, you’ll need to be careful when you’re downloading or streaming content - from emails, to photos, songs and movies - as any data you use above your allowance could incur a charge.

What is unlimited broadband data?

Many plans now offer ‘unlimited’ broadband. If you live in a busy household, with many internet users, these plans will work best for you, as you can use as much data as you like for the same monthly price.

However, remember that many of these plans - while called ‘unlimited’ - are subject to fair usage policies, which means an upper limit is place on downloads in any given month. This is generally put in place to make sure no-one is taking up an unfair amount of bandwidth, which could negatively impact other customers. If you’re a normal household, it would be very unlikely that you’d hit this upper limit.

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