Your Guide to SIM Only Deals In Ireland
SIM Only broadband is a relatively new broadband option that puts the internet at the fingertips of anyone who owns a smartphone. But what is a SIM Only deal really? Can it effectively replace a wired home broadband connection? Does SIM Only cost more than regular broadband service? Why would anyone choose it over a cable or fibre optic connection?
If you're considering options to upgrade, downgrade or get a better deal on your broadband usage in Ireland, take a few moments from your day to read this guide and get up to speed in 10 minutes or less on what a SIM Only deal can do for you.
What is SIM Only broadband?
These are the 6 main types of broadband available in Ireland:
- Fibre optic
- Fixed wireless
- SIM Only
The first three all involve connecting your devices, usually via a wireless router located centrally in your home, to a cable network outside your house. You will rarely hear the terms ADSL or cable used, but if the download speeds offered are less than 100Mbps then you are probably using one of these with the slowest variety being ADSL.
Fibre optic is widely advertised as the term is more well-known to the public. You can expect speeds of 100Mbps and above, rising to as high as 10Gbps for business packages.
Fixed wireless and satellite both involve broadcasting the internet to your home into a receiving dish. The speed and reliability are relatively good with satellite being slightly more susceptible to weather conditions than other forms of broadband.
SIM Only refers to broadband that you access exclusively through a ‘Subscriber Identity Module', or SIM card, in your smartphone, laptop, or other compatible device. These cards use the mobile cellular network rather than fixed wire telephone lines, fibre optic cables or radio waves broadcast directly via transmitter or satellite.
Is SIM Only internet access different to other broadband services?
It depends on the SIM Only deal in question and the type of broadband you are comparing it with. The main difference is that you can bring your broadband with you to any place the cellular network covers.
When it comes to speed, it's a little more complicated.
Download speed is determined by the generation of mobile technology you are using, the amount of traffic on the network, your location, and which provider you are with. The main metric for speed is the technology standard which typically ranges from 3G to 5G in Ireland.
Third generation, or 3G is the minimum standard today with most providers aiming to offer 4G, 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution - an improvement on 4G), and 5G. You may notice, however, that depending on your location, or time of day, your coverage drops to an earlier generation.
If your provider offers 5G coverage you can expect download speeds comparable to part fibre or even full fibre broadband service.
For reference, here are standard download speeds for the main types of broadband in Ireland including SIM Only deals.
Broadband Download Speeds in Ireland
|Theoretical Download Speed
|Typical Download Speeds
|6Mbps to 24Mbps
|10Mbps to 50Mbps
|Up to 10Gbps
|100Mbps to 2Gbps
|Sim Only 3G
|1Mbps to 5Mbps
|Sim Only 4G
|10Mbps to 15Mbps
|Sim Only 4G LTE
|Up to 1Gbps
|15Mbps to 50Mbps
|SIM Only 5G
|Up to 10Gbps
|50Mbps to 200Mbps
What's included in a SIM Only deal?
SIM Only deals generally include the following items as standard.
1. Calls and texts
Allowances for calls and texts vary. Some providers offer unlimited calls and texts, while others limit the number of minutes or differentiate between international versus national and local calls. Make sure to check what's included and choose what works best for you.
2. Data allowance
Many providers offer unlimited 5G, but not all deals are created equal. Limits can vary from as little as 1GB per month to ‘all you can eat' data. Always make sure you know exactly what your limits are and find out what the cost will be if you exceed them.
Where 'unlimited' data is advertised, check if there is a ‘fair usage' policy, and if there is, know what the limit is and what will happen if you exceed this limit.
3. Roaming allowance
This usually refers to data usage within the EU. Before you travel make sure you know what the limit is and how much you will be charged if you exceed it. If you travel frequently outside the EU, make sure you know how your provider will handle this.
What to watch out for
The main things to keep in mind when looking for great SIM Only deals are:
1. Monthly cost
If you are thinking of cancelling your regular broadband, make sure it is cost-effective. Be aware if you are signing up to a deal and find out what the cost will be after the deal period is over.
2. Data limits
You can save money if you use the internet very little, but make sure you know what breaking the limit will cost. If your deal is unlimited, find out if it is 'true' unlimited or subject to a ‘fair usage policy'. If the latter, make sure you know what this is and the cost for exceeding it.
3. Download speed
This generally depends on the network generation. Ask what the coverage is and if it is consistent or uses more than one generation to stay connected. See above for common SIM Only download speeds in Ireland.
4. Network type
Most providers offer 5G as standard. Ask if this is consistent or if it sometimes reverts to an earlier generation as this can severely impact the speed of your internet browsing.
5. Calls and texts
If you make a lot of calls, be sure to find out exactly what your deal covers. Many are unlimited but others have a fixed number of calls, texts, or minutes. Some deals target specific geographic locations, so be sure to do your research and find what's best for you.
6. Roaming limits and charges
These generally refer to data limits within the EU. If you travel a lot then make sure to clarify what these limits are and what will happen if you travel outside this area.
Why get a SIM Only deal?
SIM Only is a great choice for people who travel a lot and need to use the internet on the go. It can also make sense if most of your time online is spent on your phone and you find you aren't using your household broadband much at all. This can be an opportunity to save money without sacrificing anything in terms of how you use the internet.
The main advantages of choosing a SIM Only deal:
- There are no upfront or installation costs
- Connectivity is at your fingertips wherever there is a network signal
- Works well for digital nomads
- No phone line is required
- You can cancel your regular broadband and save money
- Fast downloads on the 5G network
The main downsides are:
- Your coverage and broadband quality are only as good as your mobile network signal
- If you want to use the internet on other devices you'll need to buy a dongle or data-only SIM card
Can I use SIM Only broadband on devices other than my phone?
Yes, you can, but you will have to buy a separate piece of equipment called a dongle or a data-only SIM card that you insert into your tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.
These devices generally come with a 30-day limit and are very useful when you are on the road. The main drawback is that they tend to be relatively expensive and once activated you are on the clock counting down your access to the internet whether you make use of it or not.
Who are the main SIM Only broadband providers in Ireland?
Here are the 9 main providers to compare in Ireland:
Who has the best deal?
It all depends on what your needs are. The easiest way to compare deals side by side is to check out our SIM Only broadband page and find out what works best for you.
Still have questions?
If you're still unsure about what deal is best for you, don't worry, there's a ton of information to help you on this website. You can compare the best bundles and packages right here, or check out our FAQs page to see if your question is answered there.
If you're still stumped, don't be afraid to reach out to us through our contact page and we'll do everything we can to help.