Your Guide to Fibre Broadband Service in Ireland
What makes fibre optic broadband different from the broadband you have now? Are you thinking about upgrading your broadband to fibre optic but aren't sure if it's worth the additional cost? Is there even an additional cost? And what's the difference between ‘fully-fibre', ‘part-fibre', 'fibre-to-the-cabinet', and 'fibre-to-the-home'?
If you're confused about fibre broadband in Ireland, check out this guide and instantly upgrade your understanding to consumer expert level in 9 minutes or less. When you start the search for your next broadband package you'll know exactly what you're looking for and get the best possible deal your hard-earned money can buy.
How does fibre broadband work?
The latest and greatest version of internet connectivity uses bundles of cables composed of ultra-thin glass strands. These are bound together within a layer of plastic and other protective materials. Digital data is sent through the glass fibres in the form of light flashes that are interpreted at the receiving end of the cable.
As the data travels near the speed of light, your internet browsing, streaming, gaming, uploads, and downloads can happen almost instantaneously. Most internet connections still use ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) technology which runs over traditional copper phone lines or coaxial cables. While these are both fast, they don't compare well to fibre optic technology.
The electrical impulses used by ADSL and coaxial cable also travel very quickly, but there is inherent resistance in the wires that slow the signal down. Additionally, the phone line network may be older and overburdened with existing data transfer that includes both digital data and telephone calls. The bandwidth available can be quickly used up causing further slowdowns.
Why use fibre broadband?
The number one reason is speed. Before broadband was introduced for domestic use in the early 2000s, 'dial-up' connections were used to surf the internet. Download speeds topped out at 56Kbps and were often painfully slow even back then. As websites became more data-heavy, this technology became obsolete.
ADSL technology allowed existing phone lines to separate digital data from telephone conversations so that both could exist simultaneously on the same line. The new technology allowed internet users to browse the net at the then eye-watering speeds of up to 24Mbps, or 428 times faster than with traditional dialup.
Speeds of up to 2Gbps and more become possible with fibre optic broadband making it over 83 times faster than the fastest ADSL connection and a mind-blowing 36,000 times faster than the original dial-up speeds. Many home ADSL lines run closer to 1 or 2Mbps on average so an upgrade to fibre-optic will give a massive boost of up to 2000 times faster download speeds.
But that's not all. Here are the top 5 reasons consumers are willing to pay more for part and fully fibre broadband connections:
Faster uploads and downloads
ADSL typically emphasizes download speed so your upload speed will be considerably slower. This may not matter to you now, but as the internet evolves, this could make a difference in the future, particularly if you are running a business or working from home.
The lines are newer, more robust, and less vulnerable to external factors. They typically run underground making them less susceptible to atmospheric conditions. Your service will be less likely to experience downtime from technical and other issues.
No one knows what the Internet will look like 10 or even 5 years from now, but one thing is sure, data usage will increase. At some point, ADSL and coaxial cable solutions will become as obsolete as the dial-up modem of the 1990s. Fibre-optic broadband is the best way to prepare for these changes.
No fixed line is required with full fibre-to-the-home
Landlines are becoming less common as we all shift to using mobile phones. Many people are choosing to opt out of landline rental where the option exists to save money on the wasted rental costs. Some properties have no landline and having one installed costs money.
A full-fibre broadband connection does not require a landline. Nevertheless, always make sure to ask in advance if this is an important issue for you!
More consistent service
Fibre optic lines can accommodate more users and data simultaneously than any existing copper wire connections. Your line will be less likely to suffer from bandwidth issues due to shared use of the line.
What is the difference between full fibre and part fibre?
Full fibre, also termed ‘fibre-to-the-home' (FTTH), brings your fibre optic connection right to your home where it is delivered to your devices via a wireless router or through a wired connection. This is the fastest option available with speeds of up to 2Gbps and as much as 5 times this in the future!
Part fibre, also called ‘fibre-to-the-cabinet' (FTTC), uses a fibre optic network to bring data to the data communications cabinet nearest to your home or business. From there it will use the existing copper wire telephone line to bring the data to your residence. The last hop to your door reduces the speed to still very acceptable rates of 100Mbps or more.
Can fibre broadband be affected by weather?
It's no secret that we have plenty of ‘weather' here in Ireland. Fibre optic cables are more resistant to electrical storms, and many other kinds of weather events that take place on the island.
The catch is that if your connection is part fibre, the final copper wire connection to your home may still be affected by electrical and atmospheric interference. If your service is full fibre, it is likely to be significantly more robust than any traditional copper phone line or coaxial cable equivalent.
How do I find fibre broadband near me?
The best way to find out what's available is to check the SIRO broadband website first. Type in your address or eircode and you'll know if your area is covered. If it isn't, you can enter your email address and they'll keep you posted when it arrives. You can also visit their fibre optic rollout map and look for your town or region there.
Another way is to check the best fibre optic deals available by broadband provider and then see if they already have the service available in your area.
What is SIRO broadband?
SIRO is the joint venture company leading the Irish national fibre optic network rollout. It's a wholesale company that provides network access to service providers such as Eir, Virgin Media, or Vodafone. You won't buy from them directly, but if they have already reached your area the chances are you'll be able to order from one of the main SIRO broadband providers.
Which fibre broadband is best?
This depends on what you need. In many cases, the provider you choose will depend on where you are located. If you are in a more built-up, geographically accessible area you'll be able to choose. Compare all the best deals side by side to find out which one is most suitable for you.
Will fibre broadband improve WiFi?
Although you'll notice a big jump in speed when you move to fibre optic, it won't make any difference if you have problems with your WiFI. The wireless part of your internet connection typically joins your router to receiving devices like your phone, tablet, smart TV, or computer.
Regardless of how fast the data arrives at the router, you will still have problems if the device is faulty. There are other ways to improve WiFi performance, such as moving the location of the router or buying a WiFi signal booster.
What do I need to compare when choosing a fibre broadband deal?
Here are 9 main things to watch out for when shopping around for the best fibre broadband deal:
1. Download speed
Usually faster than upload and the most important metric. Speeds range from about 100Mbps to 1Gbps.
Try to get a deal, but also be aware of the standard price after the deal term is complete.
3. Download usage
Unlimited is ideal. True unlimited without any ‘fair use' policy is even better.
4. Is it full fibre or part fibre?
If the download speed is less than 1Gbps it's probably not full fibre, but always check to make sure.
5. Is there an installation fee?
Usually, there isn't, but ask to make sure.
6. Are calls included?
This is pretty standard in Ireland. If it's important to you, make sure it's included.
7. Is the monthly price a deal?
Use a great comparison website to find out!
8. How long is the contract?
They are usually 12 months. Check that the deal period is the same and that your discount is built in for the entire duration of the contract.
9. What is the monthly price at the end of the deal period?
Make sure you aren't in for a surprise when the contract period is over.
Who are the main fibre broadband providers in Ireland?
There are 6 main providers in Ireland. Check out their offers below:
Got more questions about broadband in Ireland?
Don't be afraid to reach out. You can check out the full range of broadband bundles and deals right here. Our handy FAQs page is a great place to visit with any doubts you may still have. If you don't find the answers you need there, then get in touch through our contact page and we'll do our best to help you out.