Ireland's Mobile Broadband: Speed, Coverage, and Choices

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Image of a person using a laptop alongside a wifi modem

The best mobile broadband is currently Eir Mobile Broadband for €19.99! If you're exploring mobile broadband alternatives to traditional landlines and dishes, or require mobile broadband for your on-the-move lifestyle, then mobile broadband is the ideal solution. Wondering what mobile broadband is and which mobile broadband providers in Ireland lead the pack? Read more in our comprehensive mobile broadband guide!

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What Is Mobile Broadband?

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What sets mobile broadband apart, is that it doesn’t require either a dish installation on your house or a landline/fibre connection. Unlike a traditional ADSL broadband or fibre optic connection, the WiFi modem instead picks up 3G, 4G and 5G signals emitted from the local tower network, and then re-emits them as WiFi signals. This enables you to get WiFi in almost any location on multiple devices, or even when you are out and about.

Will Mobile Broadband Work in My Area?

While having the freedom to bring your broadband with you sounds great in theory, in reality, you are still somewhat limited by device capabilities and signal availability. For example, if you have a 5G modem, but there is no 5G signal in your area, your service will be downgraded.

Before taking out a mobile broadband package in Ireland, it is important to check what your area's coverage will be like. To check this, many suppliers have published a signal coverage map, such as this Eir signal coverage map, or the ComReg coverage map. If you find that you are going to use mobile broadband in a location that has quite a poor signal, alternate internet access methods may be more appropriate.

What Is the Difference Between Dongles and Satellite Broadband?

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A mobile dongle is a small wireless pen drive type device that plugs into your computer or laptop. Within this dongle is a small SIM, which can operate over either bill pay or PAYG systems. Similarly to mobile broadband, a mobile dongle transforms wireless signals into an internet connection. These devices however tend to supply a fairly weak connection, and typically only permit one device to be connected at a time.

Satellite broadband requires a dish to be installed on your house. Through this dish, signals are detected and transferred to a modem or router, which then re-emits them as a WiFi signal.

The primary differences between these broadband systems, are that in the case of the mobile dongle, access is limited and weak, and in the case of satellite broadband you are limited to receiving the signal within only your household, whereas mobile broadband is of course…well…mobile, and allows multiple devices to connect at once.

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Which Is Best, Mobile Broadband or Traditional Broadband?

If you are lucky enough to have the choice between both methods of broadband, which one should you choose? While each has its strengths, it is an important decision to get right, as either way, it is likely that you will be locked into a contract for a set period of time.

Let’s take a look at their main strengths and weaknesses for each system below.

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Mobile Broadband

  • Freedom from wires and dishes
  • Take broadband with you
  • The signal can be patchy and intermittent in rural settings
  • Tends to be slightly more expensive than traditional broadband

Traditional Broadband

  • Reliable strong connection
  • Various broadband providers and packages to choose from
  • Limited signal reach and freedom
  • Requires a landline or fibre connection to work

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Which Providers Offer Mobile Broadband?

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If you feel that mobile broadband may be something that is of interest to you, you need to know where to look. While fewer telecom companies offer mobile broadband than traditional broadband, you still have a choice of three to choose from.

  1. Eir Mobile.
  2. Vodafone Mobile.
  3. Three Mobile.

Asides from comparing broadband packages, you should also consider what their area and population coverage rates are. The aforementioned coverage maps are a great indication of what availability is in your area. Out of the three options, Three mobile broadband claims to have the largest 4G population coverage rate at 99%, followed by Eir mobile broadband at 98%, and finally Vodafone mobile broadband at 90%.

How do they rate on Trustpilot?
Eir - 1.3 out of 5 from 1,950 reviews
Vodafone - 1.3 out of 5 from 1,408 reviews
Three - 1.3 out of 5 from 787 reviews

Who Has the Best Mobile Broadband Ireland Can Offer?

While ‘best’ is subjective, generally when making a comparison between offers we look at three things:

  • Price,
  • Contract length,
  • Product quality.

Below is a breakdown of the main aspects of the packages on offer.

Best Mobile Broadband Ireland Packages

Provider

Package

Monthly Price

Contract Length

Data Limit

Vodafone

4G Unlimited Mobile Broadband

€30 (then €40)

12 months

Unlimited

Vodafone

5G Unlimited Mobile Broadband

€40 (then €45)

12 months

Unlimited

Vodafone

30 Day Mobile Broadband

€35

30 days rolling contract

300GB /month

Eir

5G Broadband

€39.99

12 months

Unlimited

Eir

4G Broaband

€34.99

12 months

Unlimited

Eir

Eir Mobile Broadband

€19.99

6 months

100GB /month

Three

Unlimited 5G Gold

€39.00

24 months

Unlimited

Three

Unlimited 5G Silver

€39.00

24 months

Unlimited

Three

Unlimited 5G 12m

€54.99

12 months

Unlimited

Last Updated: 05/10/2023

Further packages may also be available depending upon your location. While what is important in a contract will vary depending on the individual circumstances, from the above list, the Eir 4G Mobile Broadband Ireland package appears to be the right mix. It has competitive pricing, no stress about data usage, standard yearly contract, and wide 4G coverage, making it a good all-rounder.

Interested in taking out one of these packages? Check out our respective Vodafone Contact, Eir Contact and Three Contact pages to find out how you can get in touch.

How Can I Top Up My Mobile Broadband?

If you have opted for the Vodafone PAYG mobile broadband plan, you will need to keep an eye on your calendar to make sure that you top up in time, as this service requires that you top up every four weeks. In order to top up your mobile broadband, you can:

  1. Call Vodafone on 1741
  2. Use the online quick top-up facility
  3. Set up auto top-up from within your My Vodafone account

All top-ups must be for the full monthly figure of your specific plan. Partial payments will not count towards this. Failure to pay on time will also result in the suspension and possible cancellation of your services, so remember to jot the date down!

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Can I Use My Own Sim and Mobile Broadband Router?

Yes! Depending on your preferences, you can purchase a mobile broadband router without a SIM, with a SIM, or order a SIM from a mobile broadband provider such as Eir to use in your own device. This allows for a huge degree of versatility in both your device strength, data plan, and cost control.

One thing to watch out for, however, is that your intended SIM and mobile broadband device are compatible. Make sure to check the details of both aspects to ensure that they will work well together. Additionally, not all mobile broadband devices grant access to their internal SIM, meaning that they are locked to a specified provider, and do not allow you to use another company's SIM card. Always read the brand specifications and plan details well before purchasing to ensure that an incompatible set-up is not purchased.

Can Mobile Broadband Be Used on Holiday Abroad?

Yes! Mobile broadband works on your mobile phone SIM card. Before going on holiday, you should access your device's settings, and enable data roaming. You should also carefully check if your broadband provider has any data usage restrictions for your destination country, and that your device will be able to use the local networks.

Mobile Broadband Ireland FAQs

What is a mobile broadband number?

Mobile broadband hubs are much like mobile phones. They have an internal SIM card, which is assigned a mobile broadband number. This can typically be found in your order confirmation, package information, or by getting in contact with your supplier.

How to boost mobile broadband signal?

Mobile broadband modems should be located away from additional electronic interference, and ideally in an unobstructed location. Moving your modem closer to a window or purchasing a wireless broadband booster will help to increase your signal strength, and help its coverage increase.

Is mobile broadband the same as WiFi?

Ultimately, yes. Though how mobile broadband and traditional broadband works differ, they both emit WiFi signals, enabling you to connect several devices to the internet.

Is mobile broadband truly mobile?

Mostly… While mobile broadband allows you to access a WiFi connection almost anywhere, not all modems come with internal power banks. This means that additional power banks or a connection to a main supply may be required, particularly if you are out and about.

The services and products mentioned on this website may only represent a small selection of the options available to you. Selectra encourages you to carry out your own research and seek advice if necessary before making any decisions. We may receive commission from selected partner providers on sales of some products and/or services mentioned within this website. Our website is free to use, and the commission we receive does not affect our opinion or the information we provide.