What is Cable broadband?

Most internet service providers use standard telephone lines to provide their internet service to their customers. In recent years fibre-optic cable broadband has been introduced in Ireland, to allow for greater data speeds, for home users. Instead of using the existing telephone lines, special cabling has been laid which allows signals to travel at speeds up to 1000Mb.

Currently Virgin Media is the only provider in Ireland offering a full fibre-optic cable broadband service. This is the main reason why the company is able to provide super-fast broadband speeds up to 1000Mb.

Other providers such as eir, Vodafone, Digiweb and Magnet all use a similar type of cable (or fibre optic broadband) connection. Each of these providers currently offer speeds up to 100Mb to customers in Ireland - with further speed enhancements planned for the near future.

Due to the cabling process, this type of broadband connection is not available in every house, unlike an ADSL connection which is a much more widely available type of broadband connection in Ireland.

At present, cable broadband with Virgin Media, Magnet, eir, Vodafone and Digiweb is mainly available in cities and large towns. However each of theses providers are working hard behind the scenes to continuously improve the coverage and availability of their respective broadband services.

Fibre-optic speeds in Ireland

  • Cable broadband is also commonly known as fibre-optic broadband. Today entry level fibre-optic broadband comes with speeds up to 50Mb. The fibre-optic cable is physically set up in the same fashion as a traditional telephone cable. A fibre-optic cable connects the provider to the junction box outside of your house.
  • With a FTTH (fibre to the home) connection, the fibre-optic cables run all the way into your house and provides a much faster internet connection, capable of reaching download speeds of up to 1000Mb.
  • There is a big difference between the 50Mb, 100Mb and 150Mb connections. On average, if you are using a 50Mb connection, you can download a standard computer game in under two minutes, download a 100Mb music album in sixteen seconds or download a 10Gb movie in 27 minutes. With speeds capable of reaching up to 100Mb and 150Mb you can expect to double and treble the speeds. These types of speeds are what makes cable fibre-optic broadband so popular.

Different types of fibre-optic broadband

There are four main options when it comes to fibre-optic broadband configurations.

  • Fibre to the home (FTTH) - The fastest speeds can be achieved by houses that are served by this type of connection. This solution runs a fibre-optic connection from the junction box into your house, providing you with speeds up to 1000Mb. eir is the prime exponent of this type of broadband configuration in Ireland.
  • Fibre to the building (FTTB) - This is a similar type of connection to FTTH but is used to cater for people who live in large buildings or flats. It operates in the same fashion as a FFTH, with the connection ending at the building and separate cable lines running to your apartment.
  • Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) - This is the most common fibre-optic connection. Fibre-optic cables run all the way to the cabinet in the street, which can be up to 300m away in some areas. eir, Vodafone, Digiweb and Magnet all use this type of fibre-optic broadband.
  • Fibre to the node (FTTN) - This solution is very similar to the FTTC option, with the exception that the junction box can be up to four kilometers away from your house.

Fibre-optic cable broadband provides a fast, constant and reliable internet connection for home users. With lightning fast speeds allowing for constant media streaming, cable broadband is creating a new internet experience.