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Super-fast broadband guide

Super-fast broadband is classified as broadband with a connection speed of 50 Mbps or more. Super-fast broadband connections allow users to carry out a range of activities online at higher speeds than those available to the majority of internet users, including streaming television, downloading videos / music and surfing the internet.

The European Commission has set a target of ensuring that 50% of homes have access to broadband speeds of 100MB by the end of the decade, meaning that more consumers than ever could have access to super-fast broadband services.

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How does super-fast broadband work?

Unlike the copper wires used by the traditional ASDL broadband phone-line connection, super-fast broadband uses fibre optic broadband cables made of glass or plastic which allows data to travel at much faster speeds, ensuring that you have access to the information in a matter of minutes or even seconds.

While the average broadband connection in Ireland is somewhere between 3Mb and 7Mb, super-fast broadband can offer speeds which are 10 times faster than this level.

However, even without access to fibre power broadband, households can still tap into fast broadband services such as ADSL+ 2, which builds on the ASDL network using improved technology, offering speeds of up to 24Mb.

Which suppliers offer super-fast broadband services in Ireland?

A number of ISPs in Ireland also offer super-fast fibre optic broadband services.

eir’s is Ireland’s fastest broadband provider and offers speeds ranging from 24Mb all the way through up to 1000Mb, depending on which part of Ireland you live in.

Virgin Media, Ireland’s longest serving super-fast broadband provider, offers speeds of up to 240Mbps as standard.

Vodafone Ireland’s fibre broadband service offers speeds of up to 100Mbps, currently on offer to 300,000 homes nationwide with access to 600,000 homes expected by the start of 2014. Magnet’s Fatpipe fibre broadband service also offers speeds of up to 100MB.

How can I access super-fast broadband services?

Using search tools such as the Switcher.ie broadband deal checker will enable you to identify super-fast broadband services in your area. You may also want to contact your provider directly to see whether they offer super-fast broadband packages or are planning to do so in the future.

What are the advantages of super-fast broadband?

Super-fast broadband has a number of advantages over an internet connection using a standard ADSL phone-line. One of the key advantages is the ability to carry out multiple activities online from connecting to social media to playing video games online, without buffering.

This also means that numerous members of the household can access the internet at the same time without slowing the service down.

As an example of the speed offered by super-fast broadband, while a HD movie would take approximately nine hours to download with a 2Mbps, a 40Mbps connection can do the same job in just over 20 minutes.

With a number of Irish people now working from home or remotely for part or all of their working week, a super-fast broadband connection means that they can access large files, video conferences and carry out a number of other business-related activities in much the same way as they would do in the office.

What are the disadvantages of super-fast broadband?

Super-fast broadband speeds can vary according to your home’s proximity to the exchange, and the quality of fibre optic cables – meaning that super-fast broadband speeds rarely hit 100% of the advertised level.

With these limiting factors in mind, it is important for consumers to assess whether they will see advantages to subscribing to a super-fast broadband service over an ADSL connection. Super-fast broadband is also more suitable for those who use the internet more frequently and have high data demands.