Ireland’s telecom market has recently emerged from a long period in which it had been held back by poor broadband uptake, underinvestment, and mismanagement among some of the key operators. Eir perhaps suffered most from the recent financial crisis, though the government’s indebtedness also obliged it to rein in investment in infrastructure. However, although there is a continuing downward trend for overall telecom revenue, there was an encouraging 1.4% increase in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2015, year-on-year.

The main operators, including the incumbent eir as well as Vodafone Ireland and Virgin Media Ireland, are pressing ahead with renewed, and significant, investment programs geared to improving broadband infrastructure and to providing 1Gb/s services. In addition, the National Broadband Scheme will ensure the delivery of a 30Mb/s service nationally by 2022. This will greatly boost the adoption of OTT videostreaming services, as well as encourage services including e-government, e-health and e-learning.

For many years Ireland’s broadband market was underdeveloped by European standards, although government efforts to improve local loop unbundling and wholesale access has meant that growth, albeit from a relatively low base, has been strong in recent years. Separate efforts undertaken by eir, Virgin Media Ireland and Vodafone Ireland, as well as a small number of small-scale fibre operators, has resulted in a rejuvenated broadband sector where average download speeds are now among the highest in Europe. The National Broadband Plan, underpinned by government investment of about €500 million, will see services extended to some 900,000 premises considered uncommercial by market players.

Ireland’s mobile market has undergone considerable changes in recent years, particularly after 3 Ireland acquired O2 and so secured a 36% market share, behind only Vodafone at 38%. Despite this consolidation, the market enjoys effective competition between three main players as well as a small number of MVNOs. Eir returned to the mobile sector with its Meteor division, although it also operates an MVNO, eMobile, hosted by Meteor. Mobile broadband, on the back of expanding HSPA and LTE networks, has become very popular among consumers since the introduction of flat-rate data plans, and LTE forms an integral part of the government’s national broadband strategy. The regulator has revised its strategy to manage spectrum through to 2018, so improving the provision of mobile broadband services.

For more information see – Ireland - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses