Research from independent price comparison and switching service Switcher.ie shows that three in five consumers (60 per cent) are satisfied with their home broadband speeds, a significant increase on last year (44 per cent).
Despite this, and the ongoing rollout of faster speeds to more areas of the country, over three-quarters of consumers (78 per cent) say their home broadband speeds are either the same or worse than they were this time last year. And the urban/rural divide is still very much evident, too – with a third of people in Connacht/Ulster (33 per cent) saying they’re unhappy with their broadband speeds at home, compared to just 16 per cent in Dublin.
Over the past number of years, there’s been a very prominent national discourse on broadband speeds, and in recent times, the National Broadband Plan (NBP) in particular has been in the spotlight. But it seems that there’s still a significant cohort of Irish consumers who are yet to be convinced that the NBP is going to sort out their broadband issues.
Almost four in ten (37 per cent) are in the dark about the Plan – saying they know nothing about it at all. One in five consumers (18 per cent) aren’t confident the NBP will have any impact on them, while just over one in ten (14 per cent) are confident that it will.
The urban/rural divide comes into play again here, with Connacht and Ulster standing out as being the most sceptical about how beneficial the Plan will be for them (24 per cent).
The aim of the National Broadband Plan is to ensure that all homes and businesses in Ireland have access to high-speed broadband no matter where they live or work, with a minimum of 30Mbps available to all. While the contract for the Plan is yet to be awarded, and work will not be completed for another few years, commercial rollouts are continuing across the country at pace, and the likes of eir, SIRO and Virgin Media are building out networks with superfast capability to new towns all the time.
However, data from speed tests taken on Switcher.ie from January to June shows two-thirds of consumers (67 per cent) are still achieving speeds less than 30Mbps. And, while there has been a focus on the rollout of gigabit broadband, and superfast speeds, only 5 per cent are achieving speeds of over 100Mbps.
In terms of how we rank against other countries, a report from Cable.co.uk, published in June, puts Ireland at 36th worldwide, while Ookla’s latest Global Index, published in July, ranks us 29th globally – climbing from 36th in January of this year.
Consumers need to be aware that providers advertise their maximum available speed. So, despite paying for 100Mbps broadband, for example, there’s no guarantee that you will actually get this speed.
The actual speed you get can be affected by a number of factors, including the type of connection being used and where you live. And the speed received will be impacted by things like whether or not you’re using WiFi or plugging into the router, the type of device you’re using and the time of day you’re online.
Switcher.ie’s speed test data shows that consumers saying they tested using a wired connection had average speeds of almost 45Mbps, while those connecting through WiFi had speeds closer to 27Mbps, so the difference is really significant – something many consumers may not realise.
Eoin Clarke, Managing Director of Switcher.ie, said: “In an increasingly digital world, broadband is without a doubt a household essential, and being stuck in the slow lane can really have a big impact on people’s quality of life.
“It’s great to see that people’s satisfaction with the speeds they’re getting at home has improved somewhat, but while we’re hearing a lot about superfast broadband, there are still a significant number that aren’t satisfied with their speeds, and many who feel things aren’t going to improve any time soon, despite the promises of the National Broadband Plan. For people struggling with sluggish speeds, simple things like streaming content, working from home, and keeping in touch with friends and family can be a real issue.
“If your broadband speeds aren’t up to scratch, our advice would be to take some steps to optimise your broadband performance – like making sure your router is not encased in a cabinet and moving it into the room where you use the internet most. If this doesn’t help, contact your provider as they may be able to help, by either advising you on ways to optimise your speeds, or upgrading your equipment. If you’re still not happy, it might be time to shop around for another provider who can deliver the broadband speed you need – more and more plans with high speeds are rolling out all the time, so there may be more availability now than when you originally signed up.”