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Since posting a few previous articles on mobile broadband, a few people contacted me for an update on how the providers compare. Before deciding on any service, I strongly recommend checking the coverage for the particular network.
For all three networks, a good way to start is to get a lend of a phone for each network and walk around the house including the loft if possible to find the spot with the strongest 4G signal. This test is best performed in the evening around 9pm or when the Internet will most likely be used. Like Ookla, Net Perform measures the uplink, downlink and the ping latency as mobile broadband options ireland on the right.
It mobile broadband options ireland maintains a speed test history. For the Vodafone and Eir Meteor networks, the test results give a rough indication of what can be achieved with a dedicated router. The Three network shapes traffic differently between handsets and broadband devices and appears to limit the range of how far the broadband device will operate from a mast.
Based on my experience, broadband devices generally get considerably faster data speeds than mobile handsets on the Three network, particularly in a strong signal area. However, I also have been in mobile broadband options ireland area where mobile handsets work fine the Three network with both 3G and 4G, yet broadband devices are unable to register with the network with a Three Mobile broadband SIM.
If the phone does not switch to 4G mode inside, I recommend trying to force the phone into LTE mode to see whether it can pick up even 1 bar of usable reception. Desktop broadband routers such as the Huawei Bs have antennas far more sensitive than those in handsets. As a result, a 1 bar 4G phone signal will usually mean a moderate 4G signal on a dedicated router or stronger with an outdoor antenna. Vodafone has by far the most widespread 4G coverage in Ireland and even has 3G in many areas not covered by any other network.
With their mediocre data bundles on both prepay and contract mobile phone plans and the most expensive mobile broadband plans, it is no surprise that people are showing off impressive 4G speed tests due to their lighter network load. They provide the router for free with the contract. Vodafone recently changed their SIM only contract lengths to 12 months available on this page and to between 18 and 24 months depending on the device choice.
Their Vodafone B appears to be a rebadged Huawei B desktop router. The Vodafone B is a rebadged Huawei B For those with a weak signal signal, it has two TS9 antenna connectors. See this page on 4gltemall for a review of it and detailed specification on this router.
Vodafone now automatically caps the connection on their GB plan, preventing accidental excess usage unlike Three. According to Vodafoneonce the connection drops at the usage limit, the customer can call Vodafone to extend the limit.
The GB add-on takes effect from the next billing cycle see update below. With the smaller and older plans, there are mixed reports on their forums about whether they can mobile broadband options ireland the user going over the limit. Excess usage is charged at 0. This should still provide up to Mbps of bandwidth depending on the signal strength and network load. Update 23rd January The Vodafone reps have given mixed information about how the GB add-on works.
Mobile broadband options ireland the past, they said it adds GB one-off for the remainder of the current monthwhile more recently they said it takes effect from the next billing cycle.
Update 7th March Vodafone appears to have fixed the recent performance issues people were reporting. There are also no further performance issues reported about their B router recently either. Eir owns the Meteor network, so it is no surprise that their Eir Mobile plans all operate on the Meteor network. For those with an existing landline telephone, this can work out cheaper than getting a separate fixed wireless or mobile broadband plan while keeping the landline.
For those with a landline, they provide the option to move their telephone to them if out of contract with another provider where they mobile broadband options ireland the telephone service by landline and broadband via the Meteor 4G network. Further info can be found in their terms PDF documents: I visited a couple who were able to avail of the Eir 4G mobile broadband.
The speed was very impressive for the time of evening, but then again they are in a rural area, so the cell tower they are picking up is lightly loaded. The speed test on the right was Monday evening about 8: Unlike its earlier broadband offerings, this is only available on an 18 month minimum contract.
It includes a free network locked Huawei B router and two rabbit ear antennas. Over the 18 month mobile broadband options ireland, it actually works out cheaper than buying the B router separately while using a prepay phone SIM in the router for AYCE data. Unlike that unofficial method, Three will provide technical support and mobile broadband options ireland is also a 14 day cooling off period when ordering the broadband package online.
Customers on those plans can upgrade to the GB plan within the last three months mobile broadband options ireland their contract. The router mobile broadband options ireland need to be rebooted for the public IP address to be assigned.
Should this happen, restart the router and it will usually pick up a public IP address again. While they operate on the Three network, they reportedly have much better aftersales support.
Three has the most severe excess usage charge of 0. It is unclear whether this applies with their new unlimited broadband offering. However, it does apply to the GB promotional plan they offered between the 15th January and 22nd January as well as their earlier broadband plans.
See this article for a traffic shaping democompared side-by-side with other networks. As a quick example, compare the above right speed test against the following file download from Heanet, both tests performed one after the other during peak time.
From my own testing, Three applies the same traffic shaping to their broadband contract customers as they do with their prepay phone customers.
On the other hand, the connection appears to be more stable than using mobile broadband options ireland phone SIM and they will provide technical support. It appears that Three was traffic shaping in the UK also. They are accused of slowing down certain types of traffic, including data roaming. On the plus side for meThree has upgraded the mast in my area, providing a substantial improvement in the 4G speed I get here, even peak time.
Update 27th March As of Friday, 23rd Marchmy Three internet connection started going up and down in a loop.
It appears that Three installed a new mast in a distance that my router keeps trying to switch to. A continuous ping test clearly illustrates the issue:. Despite sending them numerous screenshots including the above ping test, they insist that my connection is fine. So far, I have been able to get around this issue by positioning a dense obstacle in line-of-sight mobile broadband options ireland that new mast.
I plan posting an update later once I get hold of some new band 20 directional antennas, as this would make a good isolation test mobile broadband options ireland directivity. They include a 30 day guarantee, twice as long as the standard 14 day cooling off period. They appear to mobile broadband options ireland the Three network directly.
Going by feedback and posts I came across on Boards. I still have yet to hear anyone complain about their customer service. I have also seen a few people mention the same on the forums. The connection drops once they use up the data allowance. Rural Wi-Fi provides the option to upgrade their subscription e. Further mobile broadband options ireland on Rural WiFi is available on their official website.
All three major providers offer a 7. This can be useful if it is difficult to get a lend of a phone or broadband SIM for a certain network. The obvious catch is that the user needs to obtain a suitable router mobile broadband options ireland try the SIM mobile broadband options ireland. Although this router lacks the LTE Advanced capability of some newer routers, it reportedly provides the best internal antenna sensitivity of any desktop 4G router making it better suited for those in weak signal areas, especially where the user wants to mobile broadband options ireland or cannot install an outdoor antenna.
The Bs also has a high resale value where the user can recover most of the cost if they go with a contract plan that includes a free or discounted router. Each network now issues a trio SIM card regardless of its intended use. Most routers require mobile broadband options ireland mini size SIM.
If you accidentally split the SIM apart, mobile broadband options ireland pieces snap together again. This can also be useful to swap a SIM back and forth between a router and a phone that require difference size SIM cards.
The following options below are a few prepay plans worth considering for those who do not want to sign up to any contract. However, this should be sufficient for testing the network before signing up to a lengthy contract. Vodafone is the only network that officially supports phone and mobile broadband use with the one SIM card. The user can later change this setting. Be mobile broadband options ireland to use the correct APN for the corresponding bundle, as explained in this article.
The Vodafone X student plans offers the largest data bundles with prepay on the Vodafone network, intended for handset use. These plans require a student ID to purchase in store or a Facebook account with an age of between 16 and 25 to purchase online. This check only takes place when signing up for the plan as discussed on Boards. Tethering reportedly works, however, Vodafone branded phones such as the Smart Ultra prevents tethering with the live APN. It can take a day for 4G to activate on a new Vodafone prepay account.
Their support chat service can usually override this. Going by numerous reports in the Boards. Although not supported or permitted according to Three, they do not actively prevent such usage at this time.
However, they do appear to randomly block the connection. When this happens, Internet connectivity drops even when the router is rebooted or still shows a connection.
When this happens, the SIM is generally only temporarily blocked. When the router is switched off for roughly 5 minutes, the SIM will work again.