According to Akamai’s Q3 2015 rankings, Ireland has an Internet connection speed of 12.4 Mbps and an average peak connection speed of 52 Mbps.
Ireland Population and Internet Penetration
According to a 2011 census, the current population of Ireland is approximately 6,5 million. In 2013, the Internet in Ireland was used by 77% of the population. Locally, the Internet has traditionally been an important and active contributor to both the economy and education.
Main Types of Access to the Internet
The Internet in Ireland is primarily characterized by the existence of broadband and dial-up connections. While the broadband landscape in Ireland is changing very rapidly, there are still a few thousand people using dial-up to access the Internet.
The industry experiences fast-paced advancement thanks to the fact it belongs to the private sector. The market is divided between a handful of ISPs and diverse telecom companies. Major providers include Eircom (owning the largest share of the market), Virgin Media, Vodafone, O2, Meteor, and 3Network.
Dial-up access in Ireland
Dial-up access to the Internet in Ireland is provided by almost all the aforementioned companies. For a basic subscription, there are three payment methods that one can opt for as follows:
– Pay-as-you-go, meaning that you pay only the minutes that you were connected to the Internet, usually at the rate of a normal voice call
– Partial flat rate, if you intend to use the Internet for a set amount of hours or at set times
– Full flat rate, if you wish to use the Internet for however much, at any time during the day/night
In Ireland, around 8,000 people use dial-up to access the Internet. Dial-up users often cite as reason for not upgrading to broadband connections the high price, occasional usage and/or lack of expertise. Additionally, more than half of them are located in the countryside, where broadband access is not available.
Broadband access in Ireland
As with dial-up, broadband access is provided by all the aforementioned companies. Broadband speeds vary between providers and locations (see: urban and rural areas), and there is usually a huge difference in price between low-speed broadband connections and high-speed broadband connections.
According to switcher.ie, broadband access in Ireland is divided into: fiber-optic, cable and ADSL connections.
ADSL, a slow but stable type of connection in essence, is the most common way of accessing the Internet in Ireland.
Due to the inherently complicated cabling process, cable Internet is not available in every house, which is why most people prefer opting for ADSL, even if that means tampering with the connection speed.
On the other hand, fiber-optic, while not widespread owing to the lack of proper infrastructure, is the best type of Internet connection in Ireland, currently offered by a single provider, namely Virgin Media. Speeds go up to as high as 1000 Mbps, but prices usually exceed $80 per month, both due to the high quality of service and the monopoly that the company has ensured.
According to data published by Numbeo.com, a typical subscription to the Internet comprising speeds of 10 Mbps, on either ADSL/Cable technology, starts at approximately $45 per month. Compared to other European countries, this cost is quite high, but the connection itself is of undeniable quality.
Below you can find some of the most important characteristics of the Internet in Ireland:
1. Industry belongs to the private sector – development supported by the government
The Internet industry in Ireland belongs to the private sector, and the market is divided between a handful of ISPs. Important companies include Eircom (owning the largest share of the market), Virgin Media, Vodafone, O2, Meteor, and 3Network.
In August 2012, Pat Rabbitte, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, outlined a bold broadband plan with goals of attaining, within a few years, the following:
– 70 to 100 Mbps broadband service available to at least 50% of the population
– At least 40 Mbps available to at least a further 20%, and
– A minimum of 30 Mbps available to everyone, regardless of geographical position (see: urban, rural or otherwise any other remote areas).
More information regarding the plan and its results today can be found at the following link:
2. Great speeds
According to bandwidthplace.com, Internet speeds in Ireland vary depending on the provider and the actual location (see: urban or rural). Data gathered over the course of a few months suggest that the city of Cork currently offers the greatest Internet speeds of all cities that participated in the test, with 75.36 Mbps downlink and 74.57 Mbps uplink (on average). It is followed by Leinster with a surprisingly-low 35.11 Mbps downlink and 17.88 Mbps uplink, Donegal with 17.64 Mbps downlink and 12.2 Mbps uplink, etc.
3. Moderate Internet censorship and copyright law
There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitors the activity of Internet users without obtaining a warrant beforehand. The Irish law provides for freedom of speech including for members of the press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice.
However, there have been several attempts to block certain areas of the Internet, especially websites allegedly involved in the distribution of copyrighted material without permission. In 2008, a graduated response policy was introduced in an effort to block certain file sharing websites. However, this policy has only existed in theory to this day. In practice, everyone can freely access websites such as The Pirate Bay or ISO Hunt without fearing prosecution of any kind.