Fixed broadband in Ireland is delivered over copper, cable and fibre lines. Your access to and experience of broadband services depends on what infrastructure and technologies are available at your address.
Copper is most widely used due to networks being originally built throughout Ireland using copper for voice calls. These networks changed to support data and data speeds over copper over time, most recently from Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) to Very High Bitrate Digital Subscriber Line or (VDSL). VDSL is a faster version of ADSL. VDSL uses fibre optic for the connection between your local telecommunications exchange and nearest street cabinet. The final link from the cabinet to your premises still uses copper. The availability of ADSL and VDSL, and the speeds they achieve are determined by nearness to your local telecoms street cabinet or telecoms exchange. The availability of VDSL also depends on whether fibre has reached your local cabinet and capacity is available.
Cable TV has also evolved over the years to carry broadband and phone services along with TV. Using Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS), high-bandwidth data transfer can be delivered to cable television customers. DOCSIS has also evolved over the years, delivering faster broadband speeds. The availability of cable broadband to your home depends on there being a cable network in your area.
Fibre to the Home (FTTH), also known as Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) delivers broadband over fibre optic cables that run right into your premises. Fibre offers far higher broadband speeds than copper without the distance dependency of ADSL or VDSL. However it is dependent on the availability of fibre at your premises.
Service providers usually have information on their sites showing the network and technology available at your address. This may also be accompanied by an estimate of the speed that the service may be able to achieve. It’s often only possible to give more precise speed information after installation of the service. However, fixed broadband service providers must provide certain information on speeds as part of your contract after installation.
Several things can affect your broadband service and some of these relate to factors in your home. These are are not the responsibility of your broadband provider. It’s important to consider these when troubleshooting or measuring your broadband service. Some key things that should be taken into account are outlined below.
If the router and home network used to connect to the internet can’t deliver at least the contractual bandwidth, the measured performance may not accurately reflect the your broadband service performance.
If the measurements aren’t carried out through a wired connection using the right network cable (Cat 5/5E or Cat 6) connected from your device (eg laptop or PC connected to the modem/router ethernet port) measured performance may not correspond to your broadband service performance. WiFi is the most common link to your modem that might add extra delay, packet loss or bandwidth reduction. Others include powerline extenders or wireless repeaters.
Outdated operating systems might not include the latest performance enhancing patches. Automatic updates being downloaded during your test could also mean slower results.
Multiple browsers are available to users, including Firefox, Edge, Safari and Chrome. Each has different capabilities and may provide different results on high speed connections. They will all process speed test requests differently depending on their settings and some will be quicker than others which may affect your results.
If your computer processor is already working hard, your speed test result may not be a true reflection of your broadband service performance. This may happen when certain software or applications are not closed before starting the test.
Some software like virtual private network (VPN), antivirus, content filtering (eg parental control), firewall (including local DNS changes) are active when running tests, the results may not match your broadband service performance.
Data traffic generated by other devices in the home during a speed test, like music streaming, IPTV and videoconferencing can also affect your results sand may understate the performance of your broadband service.
Please see the Commission for Communications Regulation (www.comreg.ie) for more on broadband and internet services.