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Broadband: A beginner’s guide

What is broadband?

To put it simply, the word broadband refers to a form of high speed connection to the internet, which is provided through your mobile phone or in your own home. There are four common forms of broadband in Ireland - ADSL broadband (via a telephone landline), mobile broadband (using your mobile’s 3G or 4G signal), cable broadband (fibre-optic) and satellite broadband.

As the broadband market in Ireland is a very competitive one, it is no surprise that the main things people consider when choosing a broadband provider is the reliability, price and speed of a company’s services.

The issue of speed

Speed is an important factor to consider as it is evidence of how much information can be received and sent using your internet connection. To put it simply - the faster your internet connection, the more you can do simultaneously. There are two key factors that determine how fast your broadband connection is and they are:

The connection type: Cable broadband using state of the art fibre-optics is the quickest available on the market, while ADSL broadband connections are generally quicker than mobile broadband connections.

Your location: Generally if you live in an urban area you will most likely have a faster broadband connection. Additionally, with ADSL broadband and some types of fibre broadband the distance of your house from the telephone exchange has a bearing on the speed that you can expect.

You can use our free broadband location checker to see what broadband providers and deals are available in your area.

You can also test how fast your current internet connection is by using our free broadband speed test.

Price of service

Although 3G and 4G mobile broadband connections do not require a landline, the data allowances on offer per month with some providers can be quite low for entry level mobile broadband packages. This can result in high charges if you go over your allowance and even higher charges for connecting while abroad. Compare mobile broadband deals.

ADSL broadband is the most widely used form of broadband in Ireland. This type of connection relies on a telephone line to connect to the internet and there are plenty of ADSL broadband deals available as a standalone broadband package (inclusive of line rental). ADSL is also the cheapest broadband option for most people in Ireland. Compare the best selling ADSL broadband deals.

Cable broadband is often the most expensive form of broadband available in Ireland; however it does not require a landline and comes with no extra data charges or hidden costs. Compare the best cable broadband deals.

Reliability of service

Currently, cable broadband is the most reliable form of broadband connection available. It normally connects into the cabinet found on the street outside or not too far away from your home. This means that there is less copper wiring required. Additionally, as cable broadband providers have their own technicians and support staff, the time it takes to handle faults is greatly reduced.

3G and 4G mobile broadband connections are only as reliable as a normal mobile phone service. In other words, it is very good for most of the time, but in particular areas and at peak times they can be subject to a drop in the signal quality.

ADSL will work as long as the telephone line works and you pay your bill. Problems with ADSL broadband connections can arise when there is too great a distance from a persons home to the actual phone exchange, or the quality of the line is poor. In both instances broadband speeds can suffer as a result of these factors. People who live in more rural locations can sometimes experience such difficulties.

Similarly to anything else you spend money on, it is a good idea to take on board the recommendations of people you know and trust when choosing a broadband provider. It is always the aim of Switcher.ie to not push customers towards a particular company, but rather to give a fair and honest overview of the broadband market as a whole.

Visit our broadband provider directory to browse through the best broadband deals in Ireland by your prefered provider of your choice.

Other broadband factors to consider

Broadband connection on the go: If you want to have access to the web on your laptop while you are away from home, you can explore mobile broadband packages.

Bundle options: If you are looking for a package that includes more than just broadband, review the broadband bundles available.

Unlimited broadband: If you want to use your broadband connection to download lots of music and movies, you should consider opting for unlimited broadband packages.

Broadband and TV: If you would like to combine your broadband with your digital TV service you can compare our best selling broadband and TV deals.