High-speed broadband generally refers to a connection that exceeds download speeds of 25Mbps. Forty-five per cent of Irish households now have broadband connections with speeds of 30Mbps or more, and the fastest broadband speed currently available in the country is 360Mbps.
Is there an official definition of 'high-speed'?
There is no firm definition for “high-speed broadband” in Ireland, but in 2015, the FCC (the American communications regulator) said that:
"A high speed broadband connection should have a minimum download speed of 25Mbps and a minimum upload speed of 3Mbps".
A 25Mbps connection is a high benchmark, but it is currently being achieved in many parts of Ireland. According to our own regulator ComReg, 69.8% of Irish households now have broadband connections with speeds of 30Mbps or more – which is well in excess of the 25Mbps threshold. That number is set to keep growing too.
Are broadband speeds going to increase?
Yes! eir is in the process of massive expansion. It is upgrading its infrastructure in 890 communities throughout the country, erecting new pole and fibre cable infrastructure along 23,000 kilometres of Irish roads. eir claims that the programme will be completed by the end of 2018, two years ahead of our initial deadline of 2020.
Significant progress has been made already, and eir have passed the first 40,000 premises, a key milestone in their commitment to deliver services to over 300,000 additional premises. As a result of this initiative, the percentage of premises with access to high speed broadband will rise from 70% to 80% by the end of 2018.
In addition, ESB and Vodafone are currently working on a joint venture to run fibre optic cables alongside electricity cables to provide FTTH connections for up to 500,000 premises by 2018. This venture, which is called SIRO, promises speeds from 200Mbps to 1,000Mbps. That's 40 times faster than the current high speed broadband benchmark!
Virgin Media (formerly UPC), which has long been able to provide fibre broadband to Irish households, currently boasts top speeds of 360Mbps in most major urban areas of the country.