Trying to order Broadband in Ireland in 2019!

I moved to a new house recently. Broadband always was, and probably always will be one of my most important considerations when moving to a new area. That plus the colour of the water. Don’t ask. So naturally I done some good background checks on internet availability in the new area which included looking at broadband provider coverage and availability maps online, talking to people who lived there already, checking mobile speeds and phone lines etc while house viewing. All of the above suggested that I should have no broadband worries so off I went and agreed to let the property. I actually ordered broadband well before I moved in so that it would be there when I did or very shortly after.

The first thing I did was to use Eir’s very handy (so I thought) “Moving Home Form”. You just put your current and new details in and they handle everything for you. How cool!? I filled it out and awaited confirmation from them that all was proceeding. The suggested wait time was several business days. Fine. I never heard from Eir in relation to this again.

With the failure of the moving home form process and move time fast approaching, I decided to just do a fresh broadband order online with Eir on the 7th January. The process was fairly easy and quick and I got word back fairly quickly that install day would be the 14th January, the day after I planned to move in. I was delighted to get a call to say they could come even sooner than that because the engineer happened to be in the area and had a cancellation of some sort. He came that Thursday and I wasn’t at the address but the install team rang me to say they couldn’t provide the broadband I ordered. They put me on to the engineer to explain more and he told me that I’d ordered “Fibre to the home”, superfast broadband but no actual fibre lines to the house existed. I told him that’s all I was allowed order online and he said I needed to cancel that order and tell them I just wanted normal “Fibre to the cabinet”, phone line broadband instead. That’s when the real fun began..

For most of the next week, I tried to contact Eir and subsequently Vodafone who got similarly confused about the type of broadband available here to explain their error and just order normal broadband. I need to use a bullet list here to explain what happened next there’s so much detail, sorry!

  • Step 1 – I called the Eir customer support number 1901. Except that when you ring on a mobile, like most people probably do these days because they don’t have a landline, it doesn’t work. The robot asks for your account number but as you try to type it in their system presumes you need mobile support and tries to transfer you.
  • Step 2 – I called the sales number mentioned in the order email 1800 303 736. No answer.
  • Step 3 – I messaged the Eir Twitter support account at The Twitter guys answered at least but ultimately they refer you to phone support who never answer.
  • Step 4 – I went to an actual Eir phone shop hoping to get some sense out of a real life human, face to face. I explained the problem to “Paul” who done his best to make me feel like a fool for ordering the only broadband product the Eir website let me order. One which wasn’t available in my area despite the Eir website saying it was. He put my address and Eircode in multiple times and ways and into multiple systems to prove that that’s the only broadband I could get. He didn’t seem interested when I told him the engineer was out to check and said there’s no fibre line. Paul was sympathetic to my problems getting in touch with Eir support however and gave me a handful of numbers to try ring. Each one of them failed to answer. The longest I was on hold was 1 hour and 10 minutes one day. Video proof below! That number was actually a Sales number too!??
  • Step 5 – I decided to take Eir Twitter support’s advice and post (as in a letter…lol) in a cancellation request. I done this for both my account at the old address and the new one I just ordered for the new address but havn’t heard anything back re either yet.
  • Step 6 – I said enough is enough and dispensed with Eir altogether as they obviously don’t want or care about customers and switched my attention to Vodafone on the advice of the previous tenant who used them happily. Considering my failure to get in touch with Eir in any way to cancel, I had no option but to just cancel my direct debit with them. I’m sure I’ll hear more about this but I’m ready for ’em!
  • Step 7 – To my initial delight, Vodafone were a hell of a lot cheaper than Eir for the same thing but to my dismay then, they also sold me fibre to the home, which as I’d already found out was not available here. I’m guessing the address/availability system Vodafone use is Eir’s so it’s wrong for both. Probably other providers too. I ordered the only package I was allowed to on the Vodafone site but got a call the next day to say it wasn’t available. Here we go again..
  • Step 8 – I decided, again, to go talk to someone face to face and went into the local Carphone Warehouse store to try sort the Vodafone install issue and the guy there put a manual order through for me for broadband after I explained the issue again. That order seems to have disappeared into the twilight zone. There was no record of it with Vodafone. Maybe it’s for the best as it was a completely different price and contract length to the online order.
  • Step 9 – I contacted Vodafone by phone and web chat which was a hell of a lot quicker and easier than contacting Eir and because of my experience with Eir, I understood the situation and issue fully and was able to explain it very simply to the several different agents, several different times. Nevertheless, they trust their “system” more than actual humans on the scene so they insisted that all I could order was Gigabit, superfast fibre to the home broadband and that the slower “normal” broadband I wanted was not actually available to me.
  • Step 10 – I put another order through on the Vodafone website while web chatting to a support agent. It only let me order the superfast broadband yet again but on the advice of the support guy/girl (never sure with Indian names) I ordered anyway and we agreed that if I got a call to say it wasn’t available again, I should just insist on a site visit. The same support guy tried to sell me the same package I ordered at a different (yes, dearer of course) price than the website too!?

Eir customer support craziness:

So that’s where we’re at now. Waiting on someone from Vodafone to call/visit to actually check what’s available here and install some kind of broadband. Meanwhile I’m trying to run an IT business off my mobile phone hotspot with the phone placed up against the window in the kitchen at the back of the house which through trial and error I’ve found is where the best 4G signal is. But it comes and goes..

So for once the issue is not the availability of decent broadband in Leitrim, I know I can get broadband, I just can’t seem to order it!? It shouldn’t be this hard to order broadband in Ireland in 2019?

UPDATE 1: *****************************************************************

Nothing further happened with either Eir or Vodafone as of yet (unsurprisingly) and I decided out of interest to go through all the other major Irish broadband providers including:

Digiweb – Can only offer Gigabit broadband which isn’t available!
Pure Telecom – Can only offer Gigabit broadband which isn’t available! They fixed my phone line and even sent a router then admitted it was all pointless so I sent it back and cancelled.
Sky – Can only offer Gigabit broadband which isn’t available!
Virgin – Can’t give me any kind of broadband at all!

So. I looked into Mobile broadband and happily realised that they’d all but done away with their monthly download limits. That was the reason I stopped using mobile years ago. A quick check online for coverage in my area, both with 3 Support and my own research seemed to suggest that the signal would be strong (I appear to be sitting right on top of a mini 3 Cell tower or extender of some sort!) and that their router would be far more reliable than my phone hot spot so I decided to give it a bash. I ordered a monthly package and router at about 14:30 yesterday and the router and SIM were delivered this morning, way less than a day later. All I had to do was set everything up, find the best spot (huge difference between the front and back of the house!?) and plugin and I was online again at the speeds below. Hopefully they will remain as high and that mobile broadband is stable and reliable.

Take note Eir & Vodafone. This is how easy and quick it should be to order and install broadband in 2019..

UPDATE 2: *****************************************************************

Having just setup my 18 month contract with 3 Mobile Broadband (service and speeds have been fairly reliable) and seeing out the 14 days grace period, imagine my surprise when I went out for a walk one day and seen the contractors from the fibre company (Working on behalf of OpenEir) laying the final fibre infrastructure to the house.

Fibre Box

I spoke to a couple of them and they told me as soon as they were finished, fibre would be live and available to order. Unable to resist the temptation of hooking into 1GB fibre running right outside my door I looked at ways to get out of my 3 contract but to no avail. Still, I put yet another order through Vodafone for their fastest package and this time an engineer came and actually installed the connection in my house but then confirmed it wasn’t fully live yet. He couldn’t say when! Vodafone rang me the next day to tell me the “problem” would be fixed around March 25th and I wouldn’t be billed until then. So the story continues..

UPDATE 3: *****************************************************************

My fibre broadband came live yesterday out of the blue! Speeds are all over the place though. I’ve had speed test results everywhere from the full 1Gbps to a third of that bit I FINALLY HAVE FULL FIBRE BROADBAND!!??

Fibre Broadband Leitrim

Upgrade From The National Broadband Scheme

The National Broadband Scheme (NBS) is an initiative to bring usable Broadband to rural areas in Ireland where there was none before. It’s been up and running for a few years now and the mobile company 3 were awarded the contract to provide services under it. I’ve been on it for a couple of years now and it’s been fine for me up until recently when I started to go over my monthly bandwidth limit. The limit is not too bad at 25GB and should be fine for most people but I’m a web designer!

While moaning to 3 support about kicking me offline without notice, I happened to ask them if there was any way to up the monthly limit and was told they had another package I could switch to called 3 Broadband Pro which was only a little dearer per month at €30.49 but had a 60GB monthly limit, way more then the NBS deal and something even I should find it hard to go over. Turns out this package is one of the best available on the Irish market at the minute in terms of Data Limit V Price as you can see from this comparison.

National Broadband Scheme

So the moral of the story is that many people living in rural areas including me seem unaware that there are better broadband packages than their local NBS offering and that they aren’t tied to just *NBS. Contact your broadband provider today and see if you can get on something a little better.


*PS – Strangely, 3 told me that once I switched to 3 Broadband Pro, I couldn’t go back to NBS. Not sure why, maybe they were trying to scare me off. The fact that no-one seems to know you can upgrade from NBS maybe suggests that they don’t want people leaving it?

3 Broadband Data Usage Stats

Despite living and working in Leitrim, I’ve had proper broadband now for about 4 years, either via landline/Eircom or (currently) 3 Mobile Broadband under the National Broadband  Scheme but this week is the first time I’ve ever gone over my monthly data allowance. I only found out when I was unceremoniously and without any warning kicked offline by 3 in the middle of a working day. But only after they let me go over the 25GB limit to the tune of €40!

It’s all prompted me to check out my data usage in more detail and try get some feedback from other users similar to me to see what the average monthly usage might be so I can sign up to the right package.

I guess it’s kinda surprising that I didn’t go over it before now because I’m a Web Designer and I’m online all day. Here’s some of the typical things I do online on a day to day basis:

  • Download/Upload smallish files related to web design,
  • Browse the Internet heavily,
  • Use Email heavily,
  • Use social media apps on the PC & Phone,
  • Watch the odd youTube video,
  • Download the odd video or piece of software,
  • Make a few Skype calls a week,
  • Stream music while having food.

That’s about it. Wouldn’t have thought it was too heavy even for an IT person?

Anyway, I’ve knocked together a spreadsheet below with data taken from the itemised bill for the month in which I went over the limit. It shows the average daily usage, the highest day, lowest day and highlights weekend usage when I’m not at the pc but still on the smart phone a bit.

Feel free to download it and put your own figures in to find your own usage pattern.

Broadband Stats

PS – I’ve asked 3 if I can be switched from the National Broadband Scheme to one with a higher monthly data limit as the NBS can’t be raised from 25GB and I’m waiting to be switched to the ‘3 Broadband Pro’ offering which has a 60GB pm limit and is about €30 pm. Not sure why I wasn’t told about this initially. Seems country folk only get the piss poor service?


Eircom, 3, Broadband and Phone Contracts

A few weeks ago, I had a brainwave. To counter some financial problems I thought I’d have a look at my business and house outgoings and see if I could cut some of them out or reduce them a little. I fully expected to find a pile of bills/services that we might be able to do without…services we might have signed up to without consideration when times were better. I suspect there’s a lot of people in the same boat now! I started off looking at the biggest bills, ie – rent (couldn’t change that), tax (couldn’t change that either..), etc, etc.. Unfortunately, I didn’t find too many bills that could be lowered but the phone bill, always shocking when it comes in and so easy to overspend on, started to stand out for me as a large leak that needed plugging..

It’s a fairly common conception especially among business owners that you need to have a landline to run a business. People will tell you that you wont be trusted if you’ve only got a mobile number on your business card or website and that the only proper broadband is DSL/Phone line. I say, feck that.. In fairness, when I moved to my current address and realised that for the first time since I moved to Leitrim, I would have access to ‘proper’, fast (7MB) broadband, I was happy as Larry. Then, 3 things happened..Money got very tight, Phone bills increased and Three installed a broadband mast locally as part of the National Broadband Scheme.

I decided to grab a Three mobile broadband dongle on a 2 week trial and see if it compared to my Eircom service. It compared very well! While the rated speed of the Three device was actually slower than Eircom, it just felt a lot faster, possibly due to contention ratios. Also, the upload speed, important to a web designer like me, was way faster. It averages out at about 3 or 4Mbps down and 1 or 2Mbps up. I also tested Skype out on it and it was crystal clear and stable. Three’s service worked out at only €15 per month (cheaper if you already have a Three mobile pay monthly plan, which I did).

The next obvious step of course was to ring Eircom and cancel my line completely. I had signed up to a monthly package on Skype, got my Skype landline number replacement and was all set to go without my landline when the guy in Eircom cancellations said I had a ‘contract’ until March next year and if I chose to break it, I’d have to pay the remainder of the recurring fees.

Apparently you sign up to a 6 month contract for the phone and 12 months for broadband. The fact they are kinda co-dependent on each other but have different contract periods is a bit weird? Your contract also seems to get restarted whenever you change your package which is even more annoying.

All of a sudden, my feeling of pride at having identified and executed a saving of about €125 per month went out the window. Now I’m no stranger to phone contracts or even breaking them but for some reason I didn’t expect landlines to be the same as the mobiles ones I’d had in the past. Also, when I moved into this house, I just knew I needed a phone line and broadband and wasn’t aware that I was signing up to an unbreakable contract. I have no recollection of seeing or even signing a contract or having anyone tell me I was entering into one. In fact, I just transferred my account from the old house to the new one and the old account had been running for at least a year or 2.

Basically, if you want to have a phone in this country, whether mobile or land based, you need to enter into an unbreakable and lengthy contract. You have no choice. That’s just the way it is. And sometimes, you’re not even made aware you’re entering into one. Not fair I say?

In the end, it was suggested that I reduce my Eircom bill to the bare minimum €49 per month for the remainder of the contract and have mobile barring activated on the line to try help keep the bill at no more that this monthly amount but it’s still €49 pm more that I want, need or can afford to pay. It also costs €25 to downgrade a package!

* UPDATE After getting on to Eircom support again over my contract issues I was told that moving house or changing package shouldn’t have changed my existing contract and if it did, I should have been told this at the time. I was also offered a contract get out without penalty so it might pay to complain! But contracts still exist.

Mobile Phone Masts

Went out to the bank today and spotted a mobile mast being erected in Drumsna, Co. Leitrim no more than 30 feet away from an existing one, same height, same eye sore. The existing one used to power my O2 broadband and phone 3G connection before we moved from Drumsna so I’m guessing this one is for Vodafone, Meteor, etc or maybe part of the 3 broadband rollout.

Seems a bit strange that existing masts can’t be used by multiple carriers the same way Eircom have been forced to share their infrastructure? Would save a bit of money, time and eyesore?


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