Working from home: is your broadband up to speed?

Good broadband is essential for remote working. Here are some ways to improve yours

A broadband internet connection is an absolute essential for home working. You can get away with a lot of other things, but if you can’t connect back to the workplace you’re pretty much stuck at the starting gate.

The good news is that there are pretty good options out there for almost everyone. According to Vodafone Ireland, most people have access to speeds up to 100Mbps through fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) lines, while some homes will have speeds up to 24Mbps just using traditional phone lines.

Virgin Media also offers speeds of up to 500Mbs to 900,000 homes around the country, while, according to Eir, more than 500,000 premises can access its Fibre to the Home Network, the next generation of gigabit fibre network, offering speeds of up to 1Gb straight to the home.

But it’s not the end of the world if you live in rural Ireland or another area where you can’t avail of these connections and speeds. There is always the option of mobile broadband.

"People think that they need a fixed broadband connection for home working, but that's not the case," says Three Ireland commercial and technology manager Shane O'Brien.

"We are finding that speeds of between 20Mbs and 30Mbs are about average around the country. And they can get up to 100Mbs in perfect conditions. You can do just about everything you want to do with 20Mbs or so. Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Skype only use about 5Mbs. If you are just using it for general emails and things like that 2Mbs will do."

And for entertainment after work, he points out that Netflix only uses around 5Mbs for high-definition viewing.


But what happens when the network speed slows to a crawl in the house or where your workspace is in a “dead zone” where you can’t get a signal?

"If your laptop is close enough to your modem use a cable to connect, it cuts the chance of it being affected by devices competing over wifi," advises Karen Faughnan, head of trading and propositions at Virgin Media.

“The position of your modem is very important too. If there are very thick walls or you are working in a room far away from your modem you will have poorer wifi signal. Wifi boosters like a powerline adapter can help boost the signal through the electrical circuits in the house.”

O’Brien points out that mobile broadband devices can be moved around the home if necessary. He also recommends the use of mesh booster devices which can extend signals by up to 4,500sq m and allow for up to 100 devices to be connected at a time. Enough for the largest homes and the most demanding users.

Finally, make sure your PC is up to the job. It might be fine for writing letters and sending emails, but video-conferencing may bring on the tech equivalent of a nervous breakdown. Eir also advises that older devices can actually slow the speed of the whole network in the home, so always test the tech before going live.

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