Broadband connection types

There are three main forms of broadband in Ireland, but the type of broadband connection available to you will depend on your location, together with how fast and reliable your service is.

ADSL connections

The majority of Irish internet users rely on an ADSL or ADSL2+ connection. ADSL broadband involves data being transmitted via a telephone line. Consequently, this makes it an easier type of broadband connection to set up, because an existing phone line can be utilised. Sky Ireland and Smart Telecom are just two of many ISPs (internet service provider) that provide ADSL broadband in Ireland.

An ADSL broadband connection functions through a phone line being split, which results in two channels. One channel is for voice, for making phone calls, while the other channel is for data, which is the channel that is used to access the internet. The splitting of the two channels also means that the same phone line can be used simultaneously, so someone can talk on the telephone, whilst another is using the internet.

A modem is required for ADSL broadband, even though an extra phone line isn’t necessary. If you have an extra device connected to the net, a combined modem and router will be necessary to establish a broadband connection. These are usually inexpensive and simple to set up, and will sometimes be available from providers free of charge.

Around 24Mbps is typically the quickest speed on ADSL products. However, broadband speed can be affected by how far you are from a telephone exchange, your line’s contention ratio, what time you’re on the internet, and how good your telephone cabling is.

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Cable connections

Establishing a connection for cable broadband involves a fibre-optic cable, which is used for the transmission of data. Cable broadband is not available from every internet provider, and not every location is currently able to receive it. Providers currently offering cable broadband include Virgin Media, eir and Magnet.

A special modem is necessary for the setting up of a cable broadband. A TV receiver box can be used to establish a broadband connection by connecting it to the modem, together with a telephone line. A cable connection can’t be set up through a router or ADSL modem.

Speeds for cable broadband vary because of the different types of fibre connection that are utilised, but fibre provides the fastest broadband speeds currently available, and these speeds can be as much as 1000Mb.

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3G connections

Mobile internet has increased in popularity in recent times, and, with the use of mobile devices becoming more widespread, this popularity is only likely to increase. Vodafone, Meteor and Three are just some of the 3G mobile internet providers available in Ireland. A broadband speed connection can be provided by 3G as long as a mobile phone signal can be accessed.

The 3G mobile phone networks are necessary for mobile broadband, and internet access is made possible through a mobile broadband dongle, a mobile device being tethered, or through a MiFi unit.

3G mobile broadband speeds can range from 7.2Mbps to 21Mbps. Speeds can be variable, and be affected by the type of handset, dongle, or MiFi that you use. Your location, or when you use the network, can also have an impact on broadband speed.

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4G connections

As with 3G, 4G depends on the mobile phone network to provide access to the internet. But 4G is a newer technology and designed to achieve faster speeds. With 4G, speeds are expected to be as much as five times faster.

Greater competition should ensure that all the major mobile phone networks are able to provide customers with increasingly faster speeds.

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