Irish mobile broadband becomes more compelling

Several of the Irish mobile operators now have mobile broadband offerings and the offerings are getting more and more compelling!

Irish Mobile Broadband offerings

All the operators are using the same Huawei external USB mobile broadband modem. O2 claim that unlike their competitors, their version will have drivers for Windows Vista when they launch.

The data for O2 is speculative as their offering won’t be officially launched until July 2nd but their roadmap, according to O2 spokesman Kevin Heffernan, is to ramp from an initial 3.6Mbps to 7.2Mbps by year end and then 14.4Mbps next year! Also, initially they were to roll out with a 6Gb download cap but it is now looking increasingly likely that this will be revised up to 10Gb.

O2 are saying that they are positioning this to compete with similar offerings from Vodafone and 3Ireland but if I compare these figures to my current Eircom DSL broadband connection, it is: 3mb, €40 per month (ex VAT), and a 40GB download cap. The biggest difference between the two is the download but I don’t download that much so that shouldn’t be an issue.

As I see it, the O2 mobile broadband product could easily start to replace DSL connections either for home users or for Solo Soho setups. The mobile broadband obviously has the advantage of being mobile so you can take it on the train, for example and work away while traveling! And with Ireland having the most expensive line rentals in Europe (€9 per month more than the EU average), this is one more nail in the coffin of fixed lines here.

O2 are also rolling out an EDGE network which should be fully rolled out by q1 2008 according to Heffernan. This means wherever the 3.6Gb HSDPA (or 7.2 or 14.4) is unavailable, the modem should fall back to EDGE’s semi-respectable 256kb. This is at least twice as fast as GPRS.

Finally, starting in 2008, O2 will start on building a HSDUA network – this will give upload speeds of 14.4 Mbps eventually!

Are DSL’s days numbered in Ireland

37 thoughts on “Irish mobile broadband becomes more compelling”

  1. Not if you live in Kilkenny. I was there last Thursday working remotely and struggled to get a signal. People also say that the contention ratios are quite poor on these mobile offerings are quite poor. Saying that, it looks like I’ll be using mobile broadband for the next year anyway.

  2. 3Ireland offer a 14-day money-back guarantee with their modem so if it doesn’t work in your area satisfactorily you can return it.

    Not sure if the others have a similar policy. No harm in asking though.

  3. It would be nice if the networks had maps of their (3G) networks.

    Also, where is Meteor?

  4. Well I can’t even get DSL when I’m in Galway, so I can’t see us being able to pick up Wireless anytime soon.

    However the way I always saw it working in the UK, at least, was that the Home and Mobile services would combine in order to compete. So with one service you would be able access the Internet from Home and on the Road.

    Now I assume in Ireland it would require some pairing up for Companies but there is at least some companies in the UK that are in th position to offer this such as Virgin Media, BT and Orange come to mind.

    So although Wirless may be trying to catch up, I think Braodband whether that’s Cable, ADSL or advances on that technology will always be able to offer that higher amounts of Speed.

    ADSL offers upto 24 MB for est~ €37, and that’s Unlimited Download so I still think that Wired still has the biggest edge and will continue to especially as we start to move towards the likes of Cable or VDSL+.

  5. Comparing those headline mobile broadband speeds with wireline eqvilents is not really accurate – mobile bandwidth depends on so may more factors like coverage (BER), number of people on a cell, what media they are downloading, device type and even the amount of moisture in the air, so those speeds are never ever achieved by any individual conditions – they are theoretical idea condition top speeds.

    On EDGE, falback would be to 3G (UMTS) @384kbps not EDGE if HSDPA (3.5G) was not available – perhaps the EDGE rollout is to support the iPhone, which doesn’t do 3G, or it may be simply because they are still shifting much more 2.5G devices than 3G ones. (EDGE is a GPRS radio overlay)

    HSDPA doesn’t do anything for upload bandwidth, so expect the long wait when trying to send that Word document you’ve just written on the train, you’ll need HSUPA (not HSDUA) for that.

    Meteor (eircom) just took up the 3G licence, so rollout is sometime away. As regards DSL, the mobile operators are planning DSL products, so the it will grow not decline as they launch coverged services.

    On coverage, you can return any product/service bought online due to EU distance selling laws, or can return it if its not ‘fit for purpose’ under Irish consumer law, so either way if coverage is not up to scratch you can return on all networks.

    The rival service propositions are interesting – especially Three’s abandonment of the content walled garden and support of MS Messenger IM, Skype, slingbox etc.

  6. 10Gb/month ain’t gonna cut it no matter which one of these you get.

    I’d need four or five. You?

    That said, a similarly-capped, similarly-priced Eircom DSL offering now looks like a really bad deal compared to 3 Ireland’s effort.

  7. 1. These wireless broadband offerings spin the need for 3G masts but unless the Irish tech community counter-lobbies the activist groups, there will never be enough masts for wireless broadband for commuters. In fact, some prominent Irish techies are dead-set against 3G masts. You need more 3G masts than voice masts to ensure quality throughput and resolution of contention.

    2. I think the fastest data speeds will always be with PC cards in laptios but the newest laptops have express card slots which means you have to carry dongley cables with you all the time to get the best antennas. And I’m trying to downsize my carry-around items.

    3. If the networks sell the need for high-speed data on the road, they’re actually selling the beauty of wifi hotspots. This is a dangerous game for a major operator to play since it’s relatively easy to discover high-speed free, FON or subscriber wifi hotspots near pedestrian zones in several Irish cities now.

  8. “3G” is certainly a good addition to the current offerings in the market and will only increase competition.
    As for the pricing & data-caps; we’re only at the beginning and you can count on this improving.
    Also worth considering is wifi routers or hotspots using 3G as backhaul something that we’ve only just started to offer.
    For an insight into the economics behind the 3G expansion I suggest that you read this:


  9. i think fixed line will always have the edge when it comes to reliability (BER as mentioned) and hopefully the pricing will improve broadband both wired and unwired.

    It’s great to have all this extra access but it seems like we are emitting more and more RF energy, WiFi, 3G, GSM, Bluetooth, ZigBee, DECT phones – are we going to start to fry ourselves soon?

  10. We need a sniffer at Irish tech events that measures the person emitting the most EMF. Sweep everyone on entry and also when seated. Then cite and award the highest emitter accordingly, perhaps with a wifi sip phone or a DECT Dualphone since both have burned my ears after prolonged use.

  11. Hi, I am using the 3 card and find it good, but only about as good as 1Mb DSL, no better and signiificantly slow on the upload. Tested many times and always around 50-60k upload… The flexibility of go-anywhere broadband is fantastic though. and for 20 euro a month it’s brilliant value IMHO.

    Vista drivers for 3 are available on the 3 website

    The fear as always is that quality of service will deteriorate as more users come on stream.

    As for Meteor, 3G rollout should be soon, eircom mobile MVNO mooted for later this year… I think 3G has to be rolled out first?

    Still, it’s really lovely to see increasing choice out there, especially when eircom can be cut out of the loop 🙂

  12. Whatever about the respective merits of the various mobile internet offerings, wifi should never be spoken about as a substitute for any of them. Wi-fi is an urban-only phenomenon and is simply adding an extra option to the best served areas.

    Mobile internet seems to present the best possibility for broadband availability to become commonplace in rural areas. This of course assumes that the mobile companies don’t fall into the same lazy choice of just providing coverage in urban areas, where it is actually least needed.

  13. Well out in Aglish (15 miles from Dungarvan) there is no broadband until mid July. Azotel say they do Aglish but when they came to install at our place they couldn’t get reception.

    O2 popped out though and said their mobile data card will work there. So it looks like I’ll be going O2.

  14. Three are now competing head-to-head with Irish Broadband. For now, they are offering a better service, because they have more spare capacity on their network. When that capacity fills up, what will happen then?

  15. I’d agree about Kilkenny. Trying to get a Vodafone 3G signal for my Linksys Router equipped 3G card is fraught with disappointment.

    They have a potential winner on their hands as we’re at least two years away from getting an Eircom line and the other wireless offerings seem pricey and prone to company closures.

  16. I’ve got one of the 3G USB jobbies from vodafone, and I’ve done some testing in the car around Carlow town. Coverage is sketchy, but when that little modems light goes blue, you’re singing along.

    Reason why this will never compete with fixed line or traditional wireless products: Latency. It’s piss poor, between 220ms and 1000ms can be expected, especially when you move between 3G and GPRS networks, the failover time is around 45 seconds during which time the connection is useless.

    The wee USB dongle, which advertised only for Ms Windows, works fine in linux: See my post here last month.

    Also a point to note about Carlow town, that flipping wifi network caused havoc during my testing. I eventually had to disable the card in my laptop so I could continue using the 3G modem successfully.

  17. Out of interest, is it possible to fix an aerial to the outside of the house to get a better signal (I’d assume it would be some sort of grey box)?

  18. Someone above was asking about identifying coverage. The site below will tell you as it has info on all the base stations and boosters (by map!)

    Very handy…. I have a three site right beside me… so for 10gig limit a month €20 seems pretty good

  19. Three Rock – thanks that’s a help – shows that I’m in the middle of no-mans land where I am, just off the R700 between Inistioge and New Ross!

  20. Hi Guys, I am not a Com Tech guy, but I really appreciate info above.
    Having come through the Vista/Express card nightmare ,(Hello Toshiba XP, see I have an O2 datacard that will only work on GPRS in my area & with D/load speeds of 60/800 secs per item. Yet road tests come up with the idea that the area is covered by 3G.End result is that 1/3 of the town cannot get efficient reception.Mad.Do you need “line of sight” for 3G to work on masts?
    Can I extend an aerial up to the chimney, or can I adjust any of O2 network setings?
    O2 support 7 days later is pretty bad. No return calls,no solutions.
    Ironically the vodafone modems work perfectly with 3G/XP. Appreciate any comment cheers, & well done.

  21. Is the 3 data card drivers the same as the ones needed for the 3 data modem?

  22. is it possible to share your mobile broadband internet connection to other computers throughout the house

  23. Ronan, I haven’t tried this but you should be able to plug it into one computer and then use Window’s shared internet feature to share it out.

  24. That should work I would have thought like Paul says above… You can also get a router from Linksys that you slot the PC Card into and you can share it over wifi.

  25. Hi i was just wondering if is there a way of connecting a 3g broadband modem directly to a wireless router?

  26. i have tried 3 but it has been nothing but heartache. there call centre is in india, and it is just a complete pain if you have problems and have to ring them….

    also the connection speed i get in the celbridge area is terrible, usually averages about 26Kps

  27. Well I finally got rhe Linksys sorted (after getting the new 660A card from Vodafone, tweaking the APN to use and buying a HUGE external antenna for it). I’m averaging around 800Kb up and 120kb down.

    The antenna is actually sitting in the loft space and pointed in the approximate direction that I think it should.

    The speed is more than workable for normal usage. Wouldn’t like to be a YouTube addict though!

  28. One Wireless Broadband Reception/ Coverage Solution.

    Anybody who has trouble getting maximum, or acceptable connectivity, in an area where the provider claims coverage is adequate/excellent may consider the idea of adding on an external aerial. This works really well, & I came across John Andrews(, who provided a low loss cable , connectors, & a RF Industries Quad Band Antenna, in this case for an O2, Sierra card, for less than EU200.Possible solution for dongle connectivity as well.This is guy really helpful, if you have a rough idea what you need.Have 3g coverage now.

  29. Dell Laptops To Offer Qualcomm Gobi Mobile Broadband

    Dell (NSDQ:Dell) and Qualcomm paired up Tuesday to offer next-generation laptops that enable users to access multiple 3G cellular networks globally, the two companies announced Tuesday.

    According to Dell, the company’s next-generation laptops will be imbedded with Qualcomm’s new Gobi mobile broadband technology, which lets notebook manufacturers ship Gobi-equipped notebooks in all global distribution channels to deliver roaming and connectivity capabilities across worldwide networks.

    link to article –

  30. Thinking of moving from Vodafone bill pay to 3 – as tariffs seem better? Been told customer services in India is a nightmare and also coverage is bad.

    Was hoping it would work as then I would try the 3 mobile broadband when I go to Sherkin island off West Cork!!??

    Any advice out there?

  31. Philistine,

    Forget 3. I’m with them for the last year or so. It has up to 700Kbs between 0000 and 0700. 0-3Kbs between 1600-0000. In the last two weeks it has been appalling, with “Network Error” appearing 30-40% of the time.

    I’m moving to O2, it couldn’t possibly be worse!

  32. @Philistine, Sherkin seems to have coverage with 3 broadband but only outdoors so it may not be too good indoors.

    @McCloud, did you call 3 customer service? They were upgrading a lot of the network over the last couple of weeks to 7.6Mbps apparently and this may be what caused your problems.

    I’ve been using 3 for a while and find it incredibly handy, especially working on Cork-Dublin trains or generally out and about.

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