Our reliance on mobile networks is greater than ever before. We can communicate with people from all over the world in a matter of seconds. Mobile networks are a vital source of help for emergency services and news outlets who use the network to advise the public on different situations. The use of social media and the spread of video content has exploded in the past number of years and continues to grow. Services such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Twitter, Spotify, YouTube and Netflix are used by millions of people every day. Businesses rely on Mobile Networks to communicate with their employees. We expect to be able to use our phones whenever and wherever we want. This huge explosion in Internet Traffic has led to mobile networks funnelling millions of euro into improving and extending their infrastructure. The mobile network industry has changed dramatically in the past number of years in Ireland. Networks started rolling out 4G LTE over four years ago providing customers with super fast data speeds. These 4G networks now cover the vast majority of the Irish Landscape. Four years later, the networks are continuing to improve coverage and capacity. Two new networks have launched in Ireland since the first introduction of 4G LTE in Ireland. Once the second largest network in Ireland, O2 was bought by Three Ireland in a €780 Million deal. O2 and all of its customers were merged on to the Three network and the O2 brand was decommissioned in Ireland. The Mobile Networks are now testing and preparing to launch the next evolution of 4G called 5G. 5G is expected to launch in 2020 and will offer breakneck speeds. 5G will facilitate the introduction of driverless vehicles, the growth of Internet of Things devices and the huge increase in mobile data usage. Currently, the Mobile Networks are facing a major issue. SMS and Voice call use has dramatically declined the past number of years due to the increase in use of services such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger that offer free texting and calling to anyone in the world. Consumers are eating through terabytes of data every day, putting pressure on network capacity and causing congestion , forcing networks to invest more money. Customers want more data at cheaper prices, resulting in a sharp decline of revenue for mobile networks who are doing everything they can to squeeze more money out of people.
We will review eight of the above networks.
48 are Ireland's first online mobile network. They appeal to young adults and students as they offer student bundles. The network offers free and unlimited use of the messaging app Whatsapp and offers bundles that are low cost and fair. They don't have any stores or a customer care center but their great deals allow us to forgive them. Their roaming rates are standard. 48 uses the Three network meaning you'll get the same coverage as their customers. The coverage on 48 is average, poor in rural areas but excellent in urban areas. Altogether 48 are one of Ireland's best networks as they offer excellent packages but their average coverage disappoints.
Meteor (Rebranding as Eir)
Meteor is one of Ireland's oldest networks. Meteor was founded in 1998. They were the first to introduce 4G to Ireland. The network suits all ages and offers bundles that appeal especially to younger people. Like most of the networks, Meteor offers excellent coverage in urban areas and fair coverage in rural areas. Meteor offers Ireland's second largest 4G network behind Vodafone. Data speeds on Meteor tend to be much faster than 3, but slower than Vodafone. Meteor claim to have 96% of the Irish population covered by 4G. While Meteor's 4G network is very good, their 3G network is very limited, so if you live in an area where 4G isn't available, It's unlikely you will be able to use 3G either. Meteor has recently followed Vodafone's move to introduce HD Voice to all their customers allowing calls to be clearer and cancelling background noise. Meteor has a clever trick on their Pre-Pay plans that essentially offer users unlimited usage of the following services: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Viber and YouTube. Meteor "Zero-Rate" these services so using the mentioned services will not eat into your data allowance. We highly recommend Meteor for anyone who loves using social media frequently and loves watching YouTube. Meteor has also introduced WiFi calling for their customers, making them the first network in Ireland to do so. They offer a reliable network which is continually improving.
Meteor has announced that it will cease it's operations in Ireland by September 2017. The Meteor brand will be phased out and Meteor's 750,000 customers will become Eir Mobile customers. Coverage and plans will remain the same following the rebranding and Eir has promised the rebranding will further increase its ability to be at the forefront of telecoms innovation in Ireland. Eir also announced that it has reached 96% 4G population coverage, putting it within 1% of Vodafone's 97% footprint.
ID Mobile is one of ireland's youngest networks being launched in late 2015. It's also, arguably, Ireland's most affordable network. The network allows you create your own plan. Allowing you to input what you like and then they offer you a price. Although you cant have unlimited services you can customise it nearly as much as like. The network is owned by Carphone Warehouse meaning you'll find it in their stores. The company uses the Three network meaning you'll have excellent coverage in urban areas but struggle to stay connected in rural areas. ID Mobile is ideal for anyone who wants lots of data without having to pay a fortune.
Three are Ireland's second largest network providing mobile coverage to over 2 million customers as of 2017. The network was launched in 2005 and has since grown after it bought O2 for €780 million from Telefónica. Since Three and O2 have merged, O2 have become Three meaning all O2 branding was dumped. Following the merger with O2 Ireland, Three experienced major issues with its data service. The O2 network was built for voice and text, and minimal data usage while the Three network was built for data usage and had far more capacity for data customers than O2. Three was faced with huge capacity issues. Their network more than quadrupled in size, over one night and 1.5 million extra customers were shifted onto the Three data network causing capacity shortages and congestion in most areas. This led to the network crashing for hours in many parts of the country for multiple days. Three is Ireland's only network to offer unlimited data. Three offers a growing 4G LTE network that operates in all cities and various towns in Ireland. Three's 3G and 4G network has become extremely congested in dense urban areas where customers are using huge amounts of data. The Three network carries more data than all the other Irish Mobile Networks combined due to their offerings of "All You Can Eat Data". Three has has recently hiked its prices across all of its bill pay plans by €5. They have reduced the top up cycle from 30 days to 28, a similar action that Vodafone implemented on its plans several months ago. In addition, they are no longer offering unlimited any network weekend calls on their €20 prepay plan. Three has made major news when it comes to its roaming service. They are defying laws implemented by the European Comission by limiting the amount of data their customers can use abroad to as little as 1GB. To make matters worse, Vodafone, in contrast, has openly said that it will honour these new laws and will allow consumers to use their domestic data allowance abroad. This comes at very bad timing for Three as Vodafone launches new plans and continues to excel in network performance across the board and recently announced its going to invest a further €500 million into its network over the next three years expanding their 4G and 4G+ network. Three needs to upgrade the capacity of their towers to prevent this congestion. Three have pledged to fix their awful 3G and 4G coverage in Ireland by investing €300 Million into their "Big Upgrade Program". However, the results of this investment have yet to be seen. They have seriously fallen behind Meteor and Vodafone in the 4G race and are the only remaining network in Ireland that has yet to launch HD Voice. Three are Ireland's poorest network both in terms of coverage and speed. It makes you think, what's the point in unlimited data if you can't even use it? Three is ideal for people living in cities who use a mixture of calls, texts and huge amounts of data.
Vodafone is Ireland's largest and most advanced network with over 2.3 million active customers as of 2017. Vodafone was launched in 1988. The company rose to success in the late 2000's and has since remained the top dog. Vodafone offer Ireland's most advanced network, and claim to cover over 90% of every county with Superfast 4G. Vodafone's network is far superior than other networks. Vodafone was also Ireland's first network to introduce 4G+ to Ireland which is 3 times faster than standard 4G and can be found throughout 14 counties in Ireland. 4G+ allows for a theoretical download speed of 225 Mbps speed which is excellent for steaming Ultra-HD content, uploading 360 videos and playing virtual reality. Vodafone is also Ireland's only network to offer 4G LTE roaming allowing you access superfast 4G LTE while abroad at no extra cost in over 100 countries. It should also be noted that Vodafone is the only major network in Ireland to respect and honour new rules set by the European Commission to eradicate roaming charges within the EU and allow customers to use their domestic data allowance abroad at no extra cost. Vodafone is also the first network to integrate HD Voice into calls making calls clearer and cancelling out background noise. Their network also offers excellent rural speeds where other networks don't. Vodafone have won multiple awards for their network including: Ookla Fastest Mobile Network in Ireland 2015/2016, Rootmetrics fastest and most reliable voice, text and data network and P3 Best in Test for Voice, Text and Data. Vodafone recently announced they will invest a massive €500 million into improving and extending their 4G and 4G+ network throughout Ireland. They also plan to launch Voice over 4G or voLTE by the end of this year, another improvement to call quality. Vodafone offer reliable customer care and support. You might be wondering, Why doesn't everyone move to Vodafone if their network is so good. The simple answer is, their plans are very expensive for what they offer. Vodafone are Ireland's most expensive Mobile Network and offer limited data on all their plans. Vodafone have recently launched three new prepay plans that are exclusively available for students. The plans fit in line with those offered by rival operators Three and Meteor. They have finally realised that people want and need larger data plans. This is a turning point for Vodafone. They are finally offering plans which in most cases are even better value than prepay plans offered by Three and Meteor. Now students can get Spotify or Sky Sports along with 20GB of data. Vodafone have surprised everyone with their 'Weekend X' plan which allows users to use 20GB of data during the week and Unlimited data from Friday to Sunday. However, the only catch is this plan is only available to students with a valid Student ID. This is a major downside as the majority of people who would love to move to this plan are unable to do so. Hopefully, Vodafone expand this type data rich plans to everyone so customers will be able to use their data without fear on Ireland's best network. Vodafone is a booming network that has yet to be rivaled in terms of coverage, speed and reliability. While their plans are a joke Vodafone's excellent coast to coast coverage and speed, reliable customer care and advanced offerings such as 4G+, HD Voice and 4G Roaming has made Vodafone Ireland's most popular network and largest mobile network.
Best Bundle: €20 (Only keep €10 Credit)
Mobile Minutes: Uses your credit (Unlimited free calls to Vodafone Customers)
Texts: Uses your credit (Unlimited free texts to Vodafone customers)
Data: 5GB 4G LTE
Spotify or Sky Sports is available for €5.99 as an add on.
Best Bundle (Students only): €20 (28 Days)
Mobile Minutes: 100 minutes to any network
Texts: Unlimited to any network
Data: 20GB of 4G LTE data.
Unlimited data, calls and texts on weekends from 3pm on Fridays until 11.59pm on Sundays
Virgin Media is Ireland's youngest network. They launched in late 2015 and overtook UPC. The network is very generous and offers award winning customer care. Virgin Media uses the Three Network meaning you'll receive the same excellent urban coverage and poor rural coverage as Three customers do. Altogether the Virgin Media Network is a network that is sure to attract thousands of people over the years to come.
Post Mobile is one Ireland's smallest networks. The network offers simple plans. Their stores are located within An Post post offices and are often small. They use the biggest network in Ireland, Vodafone meaning customers of Post Mobile enjoy the excellent rural and urban coverage that Vodafone customers enjoy. Post Mobile is suited to those who want lot's of calls, texts and a small amount of data.
Tesco Mobile is Ireland's largest MVNO and the fourth largest network in Ireland. The network appeals to all ages and offers low cost international call plans. The network focuses on people who want calls,texts and data at low prices. Their stores can be found in all Tesco branded retailers across Ireland and have been growing steadily recently. Tesco Mobile uses the Three(3) network meaning you'll get the same poor rural and fair urban coverage as their customers. Tesco is great for people who want inexpensive calls, texts and data.
The Best Mobile Networks:
We have awarded Vodafone the title of Ireland's best mobile network as the service offers a growing 4G LTE network that's the fastest and most widespread throughout Ireland. 4G+ and HD Voice are unique offerings that originally launched on Vodafone. Vodafone are also Ireland's only network to offer 4G LTE roaming meaning when you travel outside of Ireland and where a network offers 4G LTE you can access these speeds at no extra cost. Cherry Points which are rewards earned from topping up allow you to purchase various items such as battery packs and smartphones for free over time. An award winning network and reliable customer care has grown Vodafone into a 2.3 million customer network.
Although ID mobile may be a very new network it offers exciting promises that are sure to entice new customers. Customisable plans and stores nationwide allow ID Mobile to surpass other networks. Its only downfall is its poor partner network that provides coverage for it's customers, 3. The network has terrible/non-existent rural data coverage that must be addressed sooner rather than later. ID Mobile is, arguably Ireland's most affordable network for 4G data.
Meteor are Ireland's only 'Irish' network, with over one million customers and good 4G coverage. Meteor offers great bundles at good prices. Urban coverage is excellent and with over 94% population coverage, most people will be covered by Meteor's network. Data speeds on 4G are very good.
After becoming Ireland's second largest network in 2014, 3 have been growing ever since. Their acquisition of O2 Ireland for €780 million has allowed the network to surpass Meteor in customers. The network offers some of the best bundles on the market with 3 being the only network to offer 'unlimited data'. The integration combining the two networks hasn't been all smooth though. 3 are facing on going problems with coverage and speeds. The network is heavily congested in some areas and 4G LTE towers have become extremely congested in various towns as 3 have not upgraded their capacity. Rural data coverage is terrible to say the least and penetration through walls in locations such as shops is poor. 3 heavily relies on 2G technology which was released in 1991. It makes you question whether 'unlimited data' is even worth it if it can only be used in towns and cities. Customer care is a mixed experience as their is usually long wait times but the customer care is both free and Irish-based.
Tesco Mobile offer some excellent plans that include lots of calls, texts and a generous amount of data. They use the 3 network meaning you'll receive the same spotty coverage and speeds their customers do.
Virgin Media are Ireland's most affordable network for unlimited calls, texts and data in one bundle. Virgin Media is suited to those who want to use their phone lots for calls, texts and data. They use the Three network so data speeds and coverage is generally poorer than that of Meteor and Vodafone.
Post Mobile use the Vodafone network and appeals to those who use their phones for mainly calls and texts. Bundles don't offer much data but if you happen to have data you won't be disappointed with Vodafone's excellent coverage and speeds coast to coast.
48 appeals to students who want inexpensive bundles that include lots of data and ease of use. 48 ticks all the boxes in the bundle department as they are both cheap and full with calls, texts and data. They use the 3 network so don't get excited about coverage or speeds.
Vodafone is Ireland's Largest, Most advanced and Best network. Being Ireland's oldest network has helped it serve over 2 million customers and introduce advanced telecommunications technology such as 4G+ and HD Voice. The network offers excellent rural and urban coverage. Vodafone is also Ireland's only network to offer 4G LTE roaming allowing customers to access 4G networks abroad at no extra cost. Vodafone covers Ireland with over 90% 4G coverage in every single county and offers excellent customer care. Their recent announcement to invest a further €500 million to extend 4G and 4G+ will solidify Vodafone as Ireland's most advanced mobile network. It is these unique offerings that make Vodafone Ireland's best network for your smartphone.