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A guide to slow broadband

In Ireland you’ll find several different types of broadband, all using differing technology, the main ones being Cable, ADSL, 3G and 4G. Each broadband type will have its own connection speed. The fastest and generally most reliable one is cable. If you use cable then you have the premium service available, subsequently its unlikely you will encounter problems with a slow connection.

If your broadband connection is not as fast as you believe it should be, then you can check this by performing a speed test. When you’ve completed this, you’ll know if the connection is on a par with the average Irish speed, or if it’s faster or slower than average.

You can test your broadband speed by using the free Switcher.ie Broadband Speed Test.

Location issues

Although you can connect to ADSL broadband wherever there’s a telephone line, the speed of connection depends primarily on the distance you are from the local telephone exchange; this is because the connection speed depends on the infrastructure of the local cabling.

Should you be unfortunate enough to live more than about 5 kilometers away from the exchange, it may be that you won’t receive any connection whatsoever. In the more rural areas, with fewer customers to serve, it is likely that ADSL connections are using the existing, older, cable networks, resulting in a poorer connection, reliability and speed.

However, the large urban areas, such as city centres, will be operating on more modern and well maintained exchanges resulting in a quicker and more reliable connection.

If there is a mobile signal available, then users will have access to 3G broadband, with 4G broadband only available in some areas. Unfortunately the more remote the region, the less likely the chances of getting a signal.

This is especially typical of some of the remote areas of Ireland for example, and even if a signal is available in these areas, it might be slow enough to make it unusable. Once 4G broadband is more widely available this problem should greatly improve.

Check which packages are available in your area by using the Switcher.ie broadband location checker.

Congestion problems

If you are a city dweller, and therefore lucky enough to have a fast and reliable broadband connection, you may still encounter sporadic connection problems. This usually happens during weekends and evenings, when the amount of people using the lines is at its highest. The internet lines are shared, and not individual to each customer, which causes the line speed to be significantly reduced.

The connection is also slowed down by the type of usage. If more people are downloading data at the same time, the speed of connection can be sluggish. Broadband providers try to ensure that internet traffic is shaped to provide the best service possible for all users, but those using 3G and 4G may suffer a greater impact on their connection in some instances.

Other broadband options

There are two alternatives to ADSL, 3G and 4G, and those are Cable and Satellite Broadband. The fastest type of connection is cable, (also known as fibre), and is only available in the most densely populated areas, such as large city centres. In the future, cable will be more readily available as both Virgin Media and eir plan to extend their cable network throughout the country.

Satellite provides a more robust connection, but is slower and more expensive than cable, making it less competitive than its rivals. Compare the latest satellite broadband deals.

Compare high-speed packages now at our fastest broadband page.