Number of 4G subscribers rises as Irish broadband speeds jump

New figures show total number of broadband subscriptions at 1.73m in 2018

Fibre to the home subscriptions were up 129 per cent on the prior year. Photograph: iStock

The number of 4G mobile subscribers in the Republic continued to rise late last year as broadband speeds also increased, new figures from the communications regulator, ComReg, show.

The latest statistics show 50.8 per cent of all mobile subscriptions were actively using 4G networks in the fourth quarter, up from 47.2 per cent a year earlier.

In addition, average fixed broadband speeds continued to rise, with 87.4 per cent of all subscriptions equal or greater than 10 megabits per second (Mbps), up from 84.2 per cent a year earlier. Some 77 per cent of subscriptions were for 30Mbps or more, up from 72 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Fixed broadband subscriptions nationally rose 0.8 per cent versus the third quarter and were up 2.2 per cent compared to the final three months of 2017 to 1.43 million.


According to ComReg, the total number of broadband subscriptions in the Republic at the end of 2018 was 1.73 million, up 2.2 per cent versus the previous year. Of these, fixed broadband subscriptions were by far the most popular with 1.43 million subscriptions.

Very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line (VDSL) subscriptions rose from 27.2 per cent to 35.8 per cent over the year while DSL accounted for 17.1 per cent of all subscriptions, down from 21.2 per cent a year earlier. Cable had a 21.6 per cent share, down from 22.1 per cent in the prior year.

While only accounting for 90.642 active broadband subscriptions, fibre to the home (FTTH) subscriptions were up 129 per cent on the prior year.

Eir had 32.5 per cent of total fixed broadband subscriptions, followed by Virgin Media at 26.4 per cent, Vodafone on 18.4 per cent, and Sky Ireland, which had a 13.3 per cent market share.

Mobile broadband

In terms of mobile broadband subscriptions, Vodafone had the largest share with 46.3 per cent. Three’s market share was rose from 37.2 per cent to 40.4 per cent while Eir’s declined to 13.1 per cent from 15.4 per cent.

At the end of 2018 there were an estimated 6.28 million mobile subscriptions, up 0.7 per cent on the prior quarter. Of these, 4.7 million were using 3G and/or 4G networks.

Vodafone remains the most popular mobile operator with 66.8 per cent of all post-paid subscriptions, followed by Three at 60.3 per cent, Eir on 53.3 per cent, and Tesco Mobile with a 16.4 per cent market share.

The total number of SMS messages sent by mobile users was over 1.034 billion, down 15 per cent on the fourth quarter of 2017.

Overall industry retail revenues for the third quarter totalled €893.8 million, up 1.6 per cent on the previous year and up 1.4 per cent on the €882 million recorded in the third quarter. Of these, fixed line retail revenues totalled €347 million, up 1.6 per cent on an annual basis.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist