Archived content

The following content has been removed from the corresponding posts below.  Rather than remove it from my blog completely, I paste it below for reference.

Largest 4G plans for home broadband in Ireland

iD Mobile Broadband prepay

iD Mobile has gone into provisional liquidation and ceased to provide service on the 6th April 2018.  Further information on this and advice for existing customers can be found on their website.

iD Mobile is a virtual mobile operator on the Three network and currently provides the largest prepay 4G mobile broadband plans in Ireland that are intended for use with a router. The network is operated by the Carphone Warehouse.

Their packages are €15/month for 25GB, €25/month for 40GB and €30/month for 60GB. Each plan renews every 30 day cycle and it is not possible to renew the plan early. Their MiFi router is €74, although I recommend getting a proper desktop router for weaker signal areas. They do provide the ability to switch plan, which takes place once the current 30 day cycle lapses.

Based on my past experience trying out their network in comparison to using a Three AYCE phone SIM in a router, iD Mobile performed significantly better in the evening time, often delivering 2 to 3 times the performance I got on Three (see update below). However, during off-peak testing such as early in the day, iD Mobile seems to be ‘pulsed’ such that the average throughput averages about 20Mbps maximum on the downlink and 10Mbps on the uplink. In the past, this used to skew Ookla’s Speedtest which I’ve seen hit 40Mbps several times with iD Mobile.

Not once do I recall any download sustaining over 2.5MB/s after about 50MB of data has downloaded. The following shows an example of the “Stats for nerds” on YouTube clearly showing the bandwidth capped at 20Mbps (20480Kbps) during playback:

id-mobile-throughput-on-youtube

Excess usage is charged at 0.02c/MB (€20/GB) out of the prepay balance. This makes it difficult to make full use of the monthly bundle as a top-up must be made in advance of the upcoming 30 day plan renewal. So if the user uses up their current bundle, they will rapidly eat into their credit balance. On the other hand, the maximum excess usage the user can use is whatever prepay balance is present, e.g. €30 (1.5GB excess usage) if they did a €30 top-up for the upcoming 30 day renewal.

Unlike most networks, the renewal takes place at the same time the original bundle was purchased. For example, if the user bought their prepay iD Mobile plan in a Carphone Warehouse store at 2:30pm, the renewal will take place at 2:30pm after each 30 day cycle.

Beware:  If there is insufficient credit to renew the bundle, it will switch to the default 2c/MB charge, which can quickly gobble up any remaining credit.  If this happens, unplug the modem, top-up and choose a bundle before using the modem.  Otherwise it will start consuming the top-up at 2c/MB.  It is also not possible to purchase or renew a bundle within 30 days of the previous bundle.  The only workaround would be to get two iD Mobile broadband SIMs and use them in rotation.

There is no way to top-up by online banking at this time, however, top-ups can be made through the MyID portal using a credit card.  Top-ups purchased in store (except Carphone Warehouse) are usually subject to a surcharge such as €1 for a €30 top-up based on my experience. The user must call an 089 number to apply the top-up voucher, so the overall cost can work out at €1 to €2 more a month if the user is not near a Carphone Warehouse.

Further information on iD Mobile broadband can be found on their Mobile Broadband webpage.

Update 29th Jan. ’17: It seems like iD Mobile broadband is no longer prioritised when compared to phone SIM traffic.  Three’s network performance has deteriorated to the point where it often dips below 1Mbps in the evenings going by TestMy.net.  So I did some further testing with iD Mobile Broadband and its performance is very similar to my Three AYCE phone SIM on its 4G network here.  YouTube is also dropping down to 240p, equivalent to VHS tape quality.

Note: Unlike using a Three SIM, iD Mobile must connect to the mobile network in 3G mode for 5-10 minutes before it can go into 4G mode.  What this means is that if one is in a weak 4G signal area, they cannot force the router to use 4G only as it will not be able to reconnect if the connection drops or when the router is rebooted.  Similarly, this means that iD Mobile SIMs will not work in 4G-only devices such as most LTE outdoor routers.

Eir (Meteor) Prepay

Eir no longer offers the 180 day plan.  The text below was my former advice on using it:

Think of it like bottled gas where one replaces the bottle when it runs out, not every # days.  As long as one fully uses the bundle within 180 days, it effectively works out at 60c per GB.  For example, if one uses an average of 10GB per week, then the bundle will last roughly 5 weeks.

In fact, their €30 plan is by far the best value for light users and those with 3G/4G enabled tablets as they can effectively get a year of broadband for €5/month.  For those with a dual SIM phone, it can work as a very cheap 4G data add-on, particularly when combined with a budget Lyca or Tesco SIM for calls and texts.  This also makes an excellent backup Internet SIM.

To purchase a 50GB 180 day pass:  Text “180 day” to 50104 from the modem/router’s SMS/text tab.

Update 22nd March 2018: Eir recently reduced the expiry of its 50GB data bundle from 180 days down to just 30 days, even for existing customers.  Once the existing 180 day bundle runs out, the largest bundles available expire after 30 days.

Note:  For a few weeks after Eir shutdown the Meteor website, the largest prepay mobile broadband bundle they listed was 7.5GB for €20.  According to Eir, the 50GB prepay bundle is available to affected customers by request by calling their customer care team on 1905.  Prepay broadband SIM cards with 15GB/50GB bundles are available again on this Eir webpage.  Prepay broadband customers that have a SIM card with the former Meteor branding are unaffected.

For those that still have an active 180 day pass

If your usage is light enough such that the 180 day pass lasts the full 180 days, be sure to top-up by €30 before it expires.  When my 180 day pass expired on me, it initially brought up the webpage to say that my pass expired and then the signal disappeared.

Initially I thought it was just a coincidence that the network went down.  However, when the signal was still down a day later, I contacted Meteor support.  The agent told me that my SIM was deactivated as it had not received a top-up in 6 months.  This is not surprising given that this coincides with the length of the 180 day pass.  So I had to send a €30 top-up to the SIM # (I could have told the agent my voucher # if I had one) and then the agent reactivated the SIM.

Their largest prepay data plan with a phone SIM is €40/28-day period for 35GB of data, which is a combination of the 20GB with calls plan for €20/28-day period and a recurring 15GB bundle for a further €20/28-day period. The 15GB recurring bundle is available in ‘My Eir’ and as an option on the landing page that appears when the user uses up their main data bundle.

For those heavy into social media, it is worth noting that Eir’s €20 (and €30) simplicity plans include unlimited (60GB) of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp usage, including video content hosted on these social networks.

Note: Eir (Meteor) no longer advertises the €10 data plan, so that option may no longer work.  Previously if the user sent the SMS ’10 data’ 50104 with a phone SIM, they got 7.5GB for 30 days (now 28 days) and the connection was limited to 3G only.  This data plan did not include unlimited social media or YouTube.

Eir 4G Broadband

Note from 17th Jan. ’17: I visited a couple who were able to avail of the Eir 4G mobile broadband.  In order to avail of Eir’s mobile broadband service at the time, they had to move their telephone provider back to Eir and were offered a bundle of 100GB mobile broadband data and anytime Ireland and UK inc. Mobile calls for €60 per month on a 12 month contract from what I recall them mentioning.

TestMy Meteor speed test - 1.2Mbps down, 9.7Mbps upThe router they were provided is a Huawei B315 and is configured with the Meteor broadband APN (broadband.mymeteor.ie).  The speed was very impressive for the time of evening, but then again they are in a rural area, so the cell tower they are picking up is lightly loaded.  The speed test on the right was Monday evening about 8:30pm.

Opel OnStar in-car Wi-Fi

Note: I archived this section as it’s been over a few years since I last seen anyone using this or any other in-car Wi-Fi package.

Opel provides in-car Wi-Fi on Opel cars that come with its OnStar service. It is basically a mobile broadband router built-in to the car. Opel uses the Vodafone 4G network and users can fully utilise the data plans across most of Europe.

OnStar currently provides a 3GB trial plan, which lasts up to 90 days. While 90 days may seem like a decent trial, a trip with a few kids using Tablets will gobble that up on a single journey!  That was the first impression I heard from someone who just bought a new Opel Crossland X.

Vodafone operates a separate prepay service for in-car Wi-Fi than it offers directly to consumers. They call it their “Internet in the Car” service, which has different data rates to their regular prepay mobile broadband plans. They operate out of the UK based on speaking with someone who had to contact their technical support.

Their data plans are as follows, based on Opel OnStar’s pricing:

  • 1GB for €5, lasts 24 hours
  • 5GB for €15 (€3/GB), lasts 28 days (4 weeks)
  • 10GB for €20 (€2/GB), lasts 28 days (4 weeks)
  • 100GB for €125 (€1.25/GB), lasts 365 days (1 year)

It is possible to queue up to three bundles in addition to the active bundle.  According to Opel, one must have an active OnStar subscription (€10/month or €100/year) before they can purchase Wi-Fi data.

Regardless of the usage, I suggest going for the 100GB bundle as this will work out the cheapest in the long run. With very light usage, this works out at €10.50/month for roughly 8GB a month over the year, in addition to the OnStar subscription.

For heavy data users, I strongly recommend getting a mobile broadband hotspot and checking the Three prepay and Eir prepay sections above. With a hotspot, 100GB (two 50GB bundles) on Eir prepay broadband costs just €60.  That is half the price of OnStar Wi-Fi, does not require an OnStar subscription and will work in any car! 😉

Article revisions:

  • 9th September 2017 – Revised the iD Mobile broadband section.
  • 6th March 2018 – iD Mobile has gone into provisional liquidation.