The telecoms watchdog, ComReg, has found Vodafone to be Ireland's fastest network, followed by Meteor and Three. The findings show that Vodafone has the fastest average and peak, 3G and 4G speeds. With an average 4G speed of 22 Mbps and an average 3G speed of 8Mbps, Vodafone continue to demonstrate their network prowess. Meteor has improved the most since the last report with average 3G speeds now reaching 7 Mbps and 4G speeds exceeding 15 Mbps. Three has also improved slightly with 4G speeds exceeding 8 Mbps and 3G speeds almost reaching 4 Mbps. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Three have denied the report saying that they are currently in the process of upgrading their network. Nevertheless, this report paints a rosy picture for Vodafone whose average 3G and 4G speeds are almost double that of Three and are preparing to invest a further 500 million euro to improve and extend their 4G and 4G+ network. ComReg's report is consistent of those published by other network testing firms such as P3, RootMetrics, Ookla and OpenSignal who have all found Vodafone to have the best overall network for coverage, speed and reliability in Ireland.
Unlimited or 'All you can eat Data' is finally coming to Ireland.
Three already offers unlimited, 'all you can eat' data on all of their prepay and billpay plans. This is the core of Three's success. Without unlimited, Three wouldn't be Three. Consumers have flocked to Three to avail of unlimited services that don't break the bank. With over two million customers nationwide, Three continue to grow. However, While customers have flocked to Three to avail of All you can eat Data, according to multiple customer surveys, Three customers have some of the lowest satisfaction rates of any mobile network or mobile virtual network in Ireland. On the other hand, Vodafone, infamous for offering data bundles which make people laugh, continue to have the happiest customers in the industry. Why? Although Three customers generally pay far less money for their service, and get far more data, they don't get a data experience any where near the level of that offered by Vodafone. Undoubtedly, the vast majority of Vodafone's plans are more expensive than the competition and they are stingy with their data allowances. While Vodafone is stingy with its data allowances, they aren't stingy with network investment, ploughing hundreds of millions of euro into their network over the past number of years.
Vodafone's customers are paying for a State of the art Network that continues to excel.
At this point in time, no one can argue, Vodafone's customers enjoy the best mobile experience available in Ireland today. Virtually every major network testing company agrees. Just take a look at the following awards Vodafone has won for its outstanding network over the past two years: Ireland's fastest mobile network by Ookla, Best in test for Voice, Data and Network by P3, fastest and best coverage by OpenSignal and most reliable network by RootMetrics. Vodafone continues to destroy Three when it comes to coverage and speed. Vodafone recently announced that they will pour a further €500 million into their network over the next two years. According to Opensignal, Vodafone boasts over 36% more 4G geographical coverage across Ireland and speeds that are over 40% faster than two years ago. Whether you're in the centre of Dublin, as far south as Mizen Head or travelling in the middle of nowhere, Vodafone will most likely have you best covered. While Meteor has caught up to Vodafone in terms of speed, in many cases offering faster speeds than Vodafone, Meteor's expanding 4G network still isn't at the level of Vodafones. They were the first to pioneer 4G+, HD Voice, 4G Roaming and are now trialing 1Gbps 4G speeds.
The tunnel just got even darker for Three
After repeatedly bashing Vodafone for their poor plans, Three appears to be following Vodafone themselves. In a shock announcement last month, Three customers woke up to see a troubling message on their phone. Three has been battling sliding revenues over the past number of months. While their customer base has increased, their revenues have decreased. This led to Three hiking all of their bill-pay plans by €5, leading to customers paying €60 more every year for the exact same service. To further frighten customers, Three has followed Vodafone by reducing the prepay cycle from 30 days to 28 days, leaving customers with 24 days without service for the same price. Three has also made changes to their famous €20 prepay plan, eliminating unlimiting unlimited weekend calls and further implementing their 60GB 'fair usage' cap on all of their 'all you can eat data plans'. While all this may seem a terrible move, providing less incentives to move to Three, their plans continue to offer far more data for the same price than any other network in Ireland. Perhaps, one of the worst changes Three has made is to completely ignore the European Commission's plans to eliminate all roaming charges this Summer. At this stage, it appears that Three is shooting itself in the foot by effectively bypassing the law and changing the T&Cs of its plans to 'comply' with the new laws with stealt. However, the EU Commission isnt happy about this and has issued a stinging comment sure to send shockwaves through Three : “There is no loophole by which part of the domestic data allowance could be regarded as gift or side benefit and would therefore not count when traveling abroad,” said the Commission statement. “Doing so would appear like a clear case of circumvention, for which there is no basis in the Roaming Regulation. Thus, under the new rules, operators will not be allowed to offer only half a roaming experience to clients.” To make matters worse for Three, Vodafone has said that they will comply with the new law completely by allowing customers to use their domestic allowance abroad. It should also be noted that in addition to Vodafone complying with the new law, they continue to be the only network in Ireland to offer 4G roaming abroad.
There is now just a 5% difference in Data speeds between Meteor and Vodafone, down from 32% one year ago.
While Vodafone's 4G network continues to see increasing speeds, so to does Meteor. Vodafone's average 4G speed has reached 28Mbps, just 1.4Mbps faster than that of Meteor. This is frightening for Vodafone, having built their network on quality and reliability, Meteor is about to match their network in terms of speed and Meteor's plans are far more attractive than those offered by Vodafone. Meteor's 4G coverage has increased by over 22% over the past year, now reaching 89% of the customers that Vodafone does. Three on the other hand is battling declining 4G speeds as the network becomes more and more congested. 4G speeds have decreased by over 6% in the past year. Meteor's introduction of 4G+ earlier this year and their introduction of HD Voice last year show that they are determined to catch up with Vodafone. Surprisingly, Meteor's network handles more data per customer than Vodafone or Three. This is most likely because Three customers who have unlimited data can't access the data because of poor coverage. Vodafone's customers obviously use less data to avoid being charged €100s for overages. However, Vodafone has announced that it will plough a further €500 million into their network over the coming two years to improve 4G and 4G+ speed and coverage, introduce Voice over 4G calling and WiFi calling.
Vodafone 4G+ Wexford town (Rush Hour)
Three 4G Wexford town.
Three customers have access to the same level of 4G coverage which Vodafone customers had access to in late 2014.
On 24 June 2013, it was announced that Hutchison would acquire Telefónica's Irish mobile operations, O2 for €780 million, to be merged into 3 Ireland upon completion of the deal. The European Commission approved the merger in 2014. The O2 brand was phased out and its operations fully merged into Three on 2 March 2015. Over 1.5 million customers were merged onto the Three network. As soon as 1.5 million joined the Three network, disaster struck. The Three network was inundated with quadruple the number of customers. The network crashed repeatedly for a number of hours as millions of people were left without voice and data service. As the weeks passed, and Three rapidly increased capacity, the outages ended. However, the network had taken a major hit as speeds dropped significantly due to congestion. Three now had a major problem on their hands, they owned two completely different and separate networks, the Three network which was built for data, and the O2 network which was built for voice and light data usage. Three began a €350 million upgrade program (The Big Upgrade). The program which started in 2015, was planned to be complete January 2017. However, following multiple delays, Three has said that the 'Big Upgrade' won't be complete until Summer 2018. This is another setback, at a time when Three needs good news the most. Recent reports by ComReg show that Three is the most complaimed about mobile network in Ireland and with customer satisfaction rates that dived 15% last year alone. Three remains the only network in Ireland not to offer HD Voice or Voice over HSPA. Three's calls are handled on their 2G network, first released in 1991. Perhaps the most shocking figure from Opensignal's Global State of LTE report shows that Three covers only 57% of Vodafone's 4G footprint and 68% of Meteors respectively. Three has claimed that they will exceed Vodafone's 4G coverage once the 'Big Upgrade' is complete and will also have Ireland's fastest, most advanced network. While Three's network is a joke, their plans are the best on the market. They offer the largest data allowances (60GB on every pre-pay and bill-pay plan) of any network in Ireland. For anyone who is data hungry and is lucky enough to access decent speeds on Three should be extremely well suited to Three's plans.
Vodafone 4G and 4G+ coverage as of 23/03/17
Vodafone is beginning to listen to its customers and realising its 2017.
With revenues that continue to grow quarter after quarter, at a time when every other network is suffering from eroding revenues, Vodafone has managed to maintain its share in the Irish market remarkably well. They now have around 2.3 million customers, down from their peak of 2.4 million. While they lost thousands of customers over the past two years, they remain Ireland's largest network with the largest number of loyal bill pay customers willing to fork extra money for a state of the art network. They have defied the competition, they've been very stubborn and have been extemely reluctant to offer more data on any of their plans. This is changing, Vodafone now has the capacity and spectrum to do this. In a shocking first for the company, they released a prepay plan early last month that is actually better than virtually all of Three or Meteor's plans and perhaps even the best plans in the industry. It's a shocking change that's bound to send shockwaves through Three and Meteor who have taken advantage of customers who have flocked to cheaper plans on their networks. Vodafone is also increasing the data amounts for every current bill pay user by up to 15GB for some customers depending on their plan for free. What's more, Vodafone's new plans bundle Spotify Premium, Sky Sports or Unlimited data, calls and texts from Friday to Sunday. Another move which is admirable, Vodafone continues to allow customers to use their phones as a mobile hotspot, an extremely handy feature which is now punishable on Three for a fee of up to €100 per GB as of last month. It looks like Vodafone will extend these new data rich plans to more and more of their customers and will finally offer true unlimited data, something that has never been released in Ireland before by any network. Only Vodafone has the network to support unlimited.
Vodafone's new 20GB with Unlimited Everything from Friday to Sunday plan offers more data than all of Three's All you can Eat' data plans for the same price.
The Competition is heating Up.
The billion euro battle telecoms battle continues as Vodafone, Three and Meteor continue to plough hundreds of millions of euro into their networks. Vodafone is winning the 4G race, they are the only network with true 4G+, HD Voice and 4G Roaming. Meteor has made some significant improvements to their network too, with 4G speeds that are now comparbleb to Vodafone and a 4G network which continues to extend its coverage. Three is doing it tough, fighting sliding revenues and at the same time defending its shameful decision not honour new EU rules which will benefit customers while roaming abroad. Their netwotk consistently ranks last in all international mobile network performance studies and their 4G speeds continue to deteriorate. There's "Big Upgrade" program is delayed by over a year but Three insists that they will have Ireland's best network in Summer 2018. Vodafone has introduced new plans which are arguably the best available in the industry, on the same day Three hiked their plans by €5 and eliminated benefits such as hotspot and unlimited calls. Over the next couple of months we expect to see some new unlimited plans enter market, giving consumers a worry free mobile experience.
Three, Meteor and Vodafone all claim to have the best network. That's false. Only Vodafone has Ireland's best network. Their award winning network makes fun of others and continues to provide the best mobile experience for their customers. Because Unlimited Data is Only as good as the network it's on.