Wireless broadband choices in Ireland
Most broadband needs cables or a wired network, so if you live in a rural location internet access can be patchy. Here’s some broadband options to consider if you don’t have a phone line or fibre where you live.
How to get broadband without a landline
While most broadband services arrive into our homes and businesses via cables or existing phone lines, there are some broadband connection types in Ireland which do not need a wire.
Here are the broadband connections you can get in Ireland:
- Standard broadband: uses existing copper-wire phone lines
- Part Fibre broadband: combines both fibre optic cables and copper-wire phone lines
- Fibre broadband: uses pure fibre optic cables. SIRO broadband utilises the existing electricity network.
- Mobile broadband: makes use of your existing 4G or 5G phone network
- Satellite broadband: employs satellite technology
- Fixed wireless broadband: uses local masts and radio signals to transmit to your home
If you’re in a rural area a long way from a telephone exchange or cabinet, and neither cable, fibre or SIRO broadband has been rolled out yet, it’s likely your internet access is patchy or completely restricted.
Wireless broadband could be an option. It offers broadband without a landline, or fibre-optic cables.
How does wireless broadband work?
Wireless broadband works by using mobile, satellite or radio signals and transmitters to give you access to the internet.
Mobile broadband relies purely on the 4G/5G network, but satellite and wireless broadband use a combination of technologies. Here’s how wireless broadband works for each type of wireless connection:
Mobile broadband connects you to the internet using a mobile phone network, either 4G or 5G. You can connect via:
- Mobile dongle: This plugs into the USB port on your computer.
- Data only SIM card: Insert into a portable tablet for use on the go.
- WiFi hub: This is portable and acts as a WiFi hotspot for your devices.
What are mobile broadband speeds like?
The speed you get depends on your provider’s coverage of the 4G or 5G network and the strength of your signal.
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Based on Ookla Speedtest reports. Speeds are subject to change and depend on locality.
4G broadband isn’t as fast as fibre broadband, but in urban areas with good coverage, 5G mobile broadband may be as fast and reliable as fibre broadband.
It runs on the same kind of connection as your mobile phone, so if coverage is poor in your location, you’ll find it hard to get decent speeds with mobile broadband from the same provider.
Is mobile broadband any good?
Before you decide, it’s worth weighing up the pros and cons to decide whether it’s suitable for you.
Here are some of the main pros and cons of using mobile broadband:
- Good for internet on the go
- No tie-in to a lengthy contract
- Can be good in rural internet black spots
- Swap your SIM card between devices
- No installation charges or set up costs
- 4G is usually slower and more lag
- May work out more expensive
- Service and speeds can fluctuate
- Data allowances are often quite low
- High charges if you exceed your limit
Are there any extra costs?
The only extra set-up costs for mobile broadband could be the price of the WiFi dongle, data SIM or wifi hub, but they’re often provided free as part of your monthly plan. Contracts are typically 12 months or 30 day rolling.
Satellite broadband uses a dish on or near your home to send and receive data from a satellite, in much the same way as Sky utilises satellite technology.
This is particularly helpful if you can’t connect to a broadband infrastructure or mobile network because you live in a remote or rural location.
How fast is satellite broadband?
Satellite broadband used to be viewed as slower than other types of broadband, but this isn’t the case anymore.
You can expect to get speeds between 22Mpbs and 75Mpbs, which isn’t as fast as pure fibre or cable but is better than most standard connections.
Do you have to pay for installation?
Some providers offer free installation, whereas others may charge up to €50. There is normally an activation or set up cost and a 12-month minimum contract.
Is satellite broadband any good?
Here are the main advantages and disadvantages of using satellite broadband:
- Can be installed anywhere, even in remote locations
- Offers improved speeds in rural areas
- Connection is reliable
- Slight lag can affect multiplayer gaming
- Installation can be expensive
- Data allowance may be capped
Although it can’t compete with the speed or unlimited data that fixed-line plans offer, satellite offers a reliable connection to the internet and could be faster than other broadband services available to you in your area.
If you’d like to find out more about which providers offer satellite broadband and how to find the best plan, read our guide, How does satellite broadband work in Ireland?.
Fixed wireless broadband
Fixed wireless broadband is a type of broadband connection that uses radio signals to transmit and receive data.
Some internet providers in Ireland offer this as an option to those who live in rural or remote areas.
How does fixed wireless broadband work?
Sometimes called ‘Line of Sight’ internet, it provides an over-the-air broadband connection to properties that have a clear line of sight to a dedicated mast.
This means that no underground cables or phone lines are needed. It is also quicker to install and has lower latency issues than satellite. Radio waves are point to point so are easy to maintain and have low interference issues.
What speeds can you get from wireless broadband?
You can get broadband speeds between 10Mbps and 1Gb and there is no worry about distance or interference altering your speeds.
Speeds offered will depend on the service providers and the coverage in your area.
How much does installation cost?
Installation can cost anything up to €150, although some providers will offer to get you set up for free. The minimum contract term is normally 12 months.
Is fixed wireless broadband any good?
Here we take a look at some of these pros and cons of fixed wireless broadband:
- Easy to install and set up
- No landline required
- Lower latency or buffering than satellite
- Connection is reliable and not affected by weather
- Only available in certain areas
- You’ll need to install a receiver and router
- Usually not as fast as fibre broadband
How to choose the best wireless broadband
It’s worth looking at the pros and cons of each connection type to help you decide which type of wireless broadband is best for your home or business.
Think about what you use the internet for and the needs of your family or business and ask yourself:
- How much do you use the internet? If you and your family use the internet a lot, you’ll need an unlimited package. It gets very expensive if you breach your data allowance cap.
- Are speeds important to you? If you need fast, reliable internet for your business then it’s best to contact providers individually to find out what will work best in your area.
- What do you use the internet for? If you like to game or stream TV regularly, then fixed wireless is probably a better option than satellite due to less latency.
- Which type will be most cost-effective? Although wireless options are now affordable, there can sometimes be installation costs. Check these out before committing.
- How long do you need wireless broadband for? If you are just looking for a short term solution than mobile broadband is probably your best option due to no set up costs or contracts.
Wireless broadband FAQs
Can broadband be wireless?
Yes, it can. Although standard and fibre broadband uses phone lines and fibre-optic cables, there are also other ways of getting internet access without a physical line.
Here’s a couple of ways you can get a broadband connection without a wires:
- Mobile broadband
- Satellite broadband
- Fixed wireless broadband
This is especially useful if you need broadband in a rural area.
Can I get Netflix with wireless broadband?
Yes, as long as you install the Netflix app and pay your subscription, you’ll be able to access Netflix on your internet devices.
You may experience buffering or poor quality HD viewing if you have slow speeds or latency issues due to your wireless connection.
Can I keep my wireless broadband service when I move?
Mobile broadband is very portable and you can take it with you wherever you go. Although if you move to a different area, the signal quality may change.
If you have installed satellite broadband or a fixed wireless connection you will need to talk to your provider.
Is wireless broadband the same as WiFi?
No, the term ‘wireless broadband’ is used to describe any type of broadband without wires but is also used to describe WiFi internet setups within the home that don’t use an ethernet cable.
Find out more about about different broadband connection types in our guide.
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