Broadband speeds in Ireland among lowest in Europe, study finds

State placed 51st out of 200-plus countries with mean download rate of under 35mbps

Average broadband speeds in Ireland continue to be among the lowest in Europe although the country did fare better than many others during lockdown, according to a global study published on Wednesday morning.

The report from comparison website placed Ireland in 51st place out of more than 200 countries with a mean download speed of just under 35 megabits per second.

The study suggests at that rate it would take just under 20 minutes to download a five gigabyte film. The same film could be downloaded in Liechtenstein in just two minutes and 58 seconds with average download speeds in that country said to be just under 230 mbps per second.

Jersey, Andorra, Gibraltar and Luxembourg also finish in the top five.

Only a handful of European countries, including Italy and Greece, fare worse than Ireland.

Video streaming

The bottom three places are occupied by Turkmenistan, Yemen and South Sudan where speeds were recorded at less than 1 megabyte per second and the time required to download the film was put at between 15 and 20 hours.

The company said more than 557 million broadband speed tests across 221 countries were analysed to create the internet speed leagues table.

The survey found video streaming services accounted for more than 60 per cent of total network volume last year.

Although an overall drop of just 6.3 per cent across all countries doesn't sound like an awful lot, this figure moves very much against the tide

A spike in demand after the pandemic was declared prompted market-leading streaming services including Netflix, Amazon and YouTube to reduce the quality of their video offering to offset the potential network impacts caused by populations spending so much more time at home during lockdowns. The study revealed that, overwhelmingly, speeds still dropped in most countries included in the study during their most stringent lockdown periods, with the average decline put at 6.3 per cent.

Lockdown decline

Ireland fared better than most on that score with download speeds here falling by 2.2 per cent at the height of lockdown. In the UK, the fall was 1.7 per cent with Portugal experiencing a negligible decline of just 0.2 per cent.

By contrast Finland recorded a drop in average download speeds of 25 per cent at the height of their lockdown while it was 13 per cent in the Netherlands and 10.5 per cent in Italy.

"Although an overall drop of just 6.3 per cent across all countries doesn't sound like an awful lot, this figure moves very much against the tide," said the Consumer Tech analyst at Don Howdle.

He pointed out its annual global broadband speed tracker had found increases of about 20 per cent year-on-year since 2017. “For the majority of countries in this study to be moving in the opposite direction during their Covid-19 lockdowns, then, is all the more significant.”

He said it was “impossible to attribute direct causality” but pointed out that the new study “shows a high correlation between lockdown periods around the world and dips in measured internet speeds, with some regions of the world measuring the most substantial drops, and others more or less unchanged.”