Vodafone 5G Mobile Broadband: High-speed internet – depending on your location

Where 5G isn’t available, the modem defaults to 4G which is enough to stream video

Vodafone 5G mobile broadband
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Price: €45
Where To Buy: www.vodafone.ie

Vodafone 5G Mobile Broadband

From €45 per month

Like many people in urban areas, I am spoiled for choice when it comes to high-speed broadband connections. I can pick and choose between at least five providers delivering a minimum of 500Mb speeds, meaning there is very little that connection can’t handle, even in the current digital-dependent world.

Step outside of urban areas though, and it is a very different picture. That will come as no surprise to anyone who lives in a rural area who has been struggling to get access to a decent internet connection in recent years. The National Broadband Plan is helping in some areas, but the rollout is taking time, and with the pandemic-triggered move to hybrid working looking to be a more permanent option for many people, time isn’t a luxury everyone has.


As a relatively frequent visitor to family outside Dublin, this particular issue has come up more often in recent months. The house is in a rural location, which while lovely for family holidays, is not so great when you want to work, stream video or even just doom scroll through Twitter when you have nothing else to do of an evening. It’s not that there is a complete lack of broadband services, it’s more that the ones that are available are far slower than what’s available at home, and also be more expensive than you’d like to pay for occasional use.

Could 5G provide the answer? The technology has been rolling out across the country starting from 2019, bringing high-speed internet access to sites across the country. Vodafone already has Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway live, with more to follow. And while there may not be the same urgency to upgrade as there was with 4G, 5G could be the solution for poor wired broadband coverage in the short term at least.

Vodafone’s 5G service offers speeds up to 10 times faster than 4G at its peak, up to 1Gbps currently. But looking at the coverage map, I wasn’t entirely sure we would get a 5G connection, not like it achieved in Dublin.

But with a family break looming, it was worth checking out. My children are of the generation that has never lived with non-existent or slow internet. They find it inconceivable that Disney+ won’t work outside the house, or that certain games on their tablets require a constant internet connection to function.

So armed with the modem, a laptop, two tablets and a car full of juvenile testers unwilling to be parted from Netflix and Disney+, we headed off.

Setting up the Vodafone modem is simple: plug it in, wait for the lights for 4G and (hopefully) 5G to light up and connect your devices.

Although the coverage map was hazy on whether we would get 4G, let alone 5G, I found a spot in the house where both lights lit up and I could still connect devices to it all over the house.

With the 5G service active, I got more than 26Mbps download, and 5Mbps upload. Is it what you’d expect from 5G? Not even close. But although that may not seem like a fast connection compared with the more than 500Mbps I get on the connection in Dublin, it was not only far better than I’ve ever managed to achieve on a mobile connection there, it also handled work connections and streaming video simultaneously without trouble, which is all I was looking for. My distance from an official 5G coverage area should be taken into consideration. Doom scrolling was also possible, although I think a holiday from that would be nice.

When I moved the modem to another part of the house and only got 4G service, download speeds were 11.5Mbps. There was a noticeable lag in streaming video then too.

The good

The Vodafone service is flexible, so you can take the modem anywhere you have access to a power outlet. That means you can take it on holiday in Ireland, or use it for flexible working if you decide to relocate temporarily.

It's also reasonably fast. Even in a rural area where 5G coverage is spotty, I got speeds that allowed me to log on to a work VPN and connect my Google Chromecast to the network for streaming video.

The 5G coverage was reasonably stable for most of the time, although careful placement of the modem was key. It was a vast improvement from having to stand in a specific part of the house with your mobile phone and standing still until you had checked your email or finished reading an article.

The not so good

How fast the service depends on network coverage. 5G is still more limited compared with 4G in terms of geographic coverage, but that rollout is continuing. Where you don’t have 5G access the modem will default to 4G, which will be enough to stream video or log on to work systems, but isn’t quite what you want. A solely 4G service is cheaper on a monthly contract, as is the compatible modem.

The rest

You can connect up to 60 devices to the H122 modem, which should more than cover the average house.

Vodafone signs users up for a 12-month contract, so be sure that you will get the use out of the connection before you commit. The company also offers other pay-as-you-go options, although not for 5G services just yet.

The verdict

A flexible option for people who want to take their broadband connection with them, although coverage depends on where you are located.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist