Broadband connection types
There are many different types of broadband in Ireland, and the broadband connection you can get will depend on where you live, and what providers are operating in your area.
What is a broadband connection? How does broadband work?
Broadband can be used to describe many types of high speed internet. Depending on the type of connection, your provider will utilise phone lines, mobile networks, a satellite dish, or fibre-optic cables to supply broadband to your home.
Types of broadband connection in Ireland
The main types of broadband connections available in Ireland are:
- ADSL broadband
- Cable broadband
- Fibre broadband
- Mobile broadband
- Satellite broadband
- Wireless 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.
Cable broadband is another name for fibre broadband - with cable broadband, broadband is delivered to your home using fibre-optic cables. The fastest type of fibre connection is Fibre-to-the-Home, but Fibre-to-the-Cabinet is more common and can still offer speeds up to 360Mbps.
At present, cable broadband is available from many providers, such as eir, Digiweb, Magnet, Sky, Virgin Media, and Vodafone. The likes of SIRO, eir, enet and Virgin Media are continually working to roll out superfast speeds across Ireland, which means it’s getting easier and cheaper than ever to access high-speed internet.
However, in certain rural areas throughout the country, some fibre & superfast broadband packages still may not be available. If the broadband you want is not currently available in your area, consider the other types of broadband that are available - for example satellite broadband or ADSL - and see if one of these might work for you.
Fibre broadband is the quickest type of broadband connection, and as a result it can be more expensive than the likes of ADSL broadband.
With fibre broadband, broadband is delivered to your home using fibre-optic cables. The fastest type of fibre connection is Fibre-to-the-Home, which brings the fibre cables directly into your home - this can currently deliver speeds of up to 1,000Mbps.
Other connections are known as Fibre-to-the-Cabinet, which delivers fibre to your nearest cabinet and then usually uses copper cables to bring the connection to your home. Speeds from up to 100Mbps up to 360Mbps are available through these types of connections from the likes of eir, Sky, Virgin Media and Vodafone. The actual speed you get will depend on your provider and your distance from the cabinet.
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 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.
Wireless broadband is a term that’s widely used - some people use it to refer to broadband that you can connect to via WiFi (so multiple devices can be connected at any one time), while others use it as another way to describe mobile broadband.
When we’re talking about broadband that you can connect to via WiFi, this works by using a wireless router, which converts an incoming signal and transmits it throughout your home. This signal is then picked up by any wireless-enabled devices within the transmission area, enabling them to connect to the wireless broadband.
The vast majority of broadband providers these days will provide a router to allow you to connect many devices to your home broadband via WiFi.
How to check broadband availability
The broadband options you have will depend on the providers operating in your area and whether you live somewhere that has the infrastructure for fibre. Our broadband comparison tool clearly displays all of the broadband providers and plans in your area, so you can easily find the best deal for you.