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Which mobile provider has the best coverage in your area?

Nothing is worse than signing up for a great new mobile deal only to discover that the network's coverage is terrible in your area. Is there an easy way to compare coverage across networks? bonkers.ie investigates.

Small country, tons of options:

For a relatively small island population, Ireland has its fair share of mobile network operators. With three providers (Vodafone, Three and eir) owning Ireland’s mobile telecommunications infrastructure and a further five mobile network virtual operators or MNVOs (Tesco Mobile, 48, Virgin Media, Postmobile and Lycamobile) running off those networks - it’s no wonder that the market is saturated with providers clamouring over each other to offer customers the most competitive deals.

Heavy data users crave better data coverage:

It’s all very well and good knowing which provider is going to offer you the best deal price wise, but what good are low bills if you’re getting poor coverage?

What we really want to know, and what we set out to investigate is which operator is offering you the best bang for your buck when it comes to coverage. Currently, 81% of Irish people use smartphones, and with more and more people using their phones for data over calls and texts, the term “coverage” more often than not refers to data rather than phone signal.

How can I check if my area is covered?

As it currently stands, comparing data coverages across networks can be a laborious task as you’ll have to go to each network’s site in order to consult their respective coverage maps. However, this is set to change as ComReg plans to publish a composite national coverage map as part of its work in the Government’s Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce. This will hopefully take the hassle out of choosing a network provider that best meets your needs for where you work and live.

In the meantime, below you can find links to interactive coverage maps to each of the country’s three major network operators. As for the five MNVOs; 48, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Media and Lycamobile work off the Three network and Postmobile works off Vodafone so if you are with any of these networks, click through to the corresponding network.

Interactive Coverage Maps:

  • Vodafone (+ Postmobile)

  • Three (+ 48, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Media, Lycamobile)

  • eir (+ former Meteor customers)

What about speed?

ComReg recently carried out a number of speed tests across the country along 5,500km of national roads and in some city areas of Dublin, Limerick, Galway, Cork and Waterford.* Vodafone came out on top with fastest average speeds in both 4G and 3G. You can see the rest of the results in the table below:


AVERAGE SPEEDS

4G (stationary)

4G (mobile)

3G (stationary)

3G (mobile)

Vodafone

22Mbps

21Mbps

10Mbps

6Mbps

Three

13Mbps

19Mbps

5Mbps

5Mbps

eir

16Mbps

16Mbps

8Mbps

5Mbps

*Report published 04/04/2018

The coverage in my area is terrible, what’s the story?

Despite the fact that all three major operators claim population coverage in excess of 90% for 4G and 3G; under present licensing conditions, Irish mobile operators are only required to cover between 70% and 90% of the country by population, meaning they don’t have to provide 3G and 4G to remote, less populated areas.

The good news is that this set to change; future mobile licenses starting with 5G in 2019 or 2020 will require mobile operators to cover all of rural Ireland and not just densely populated urban centres. This move will make Ireland the first European country to appoint licenses based on geographical coverage rather than population.

So which network wins when it comes to coverage?

Taking all the of above factors into consideration, from ComReg's analysis it would seem that Vodafone would be your best bet if you are looking for both coverage and speed. That being said, Vodafone still can't boast 100% coverage and you might be offered better prices from other networks if you are willing to make some compromises. As we always advise here at bonkers.ie; be sure to always shop around before you decide to switch providers. 

Who wins when it comes to home broadband coverage? 

If you're lucky enough to live in an urban area of Ireland you shouldn't have too many issues finding a broadband provider to cover your needs in terms of speed and coverage. All of the major providers offer speeds of up to 100Mb and some even go above and beyond. For instance, Virgin Media was recently named fastest broadband provider in Ireland as it offers speeds of up to 240Mb as standard. 

However, as almost any rural Irish broadband customer will tell you, the National Broadband Plan has proven to be a complete disaster meaning that too many rural homes are having to put up with extremely poor connections. There is a silver lining however, as we've seen companies like SIRO step up to partner with different providers to bring speeds reaching 1,000Mb to regional towns across the country. 

Pure Telecom has demonstrated a commitment to rural Ireland, having signed a €35 million deal with open eir to bring high-speed broadband to a potential extra two million customers around the country.  

Wondering which company has the best broadband coverage in your area?

Why not compare all providers and deals right now? 


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