Which is the most reliable mobile network in Ireland? New report reveals all

12 Jul 2016

An independent report into the quality of mobile network providers has found Vodafone and Eir Meteor to be performing better than Three around Ireland.

Looking at Cork, Dublin and Limerick as test cases, Three appears to be off the pace, behind Vodafone and Eir Meteor in the first two locations, rising up to second best in the third, though struggling on both data performance and network speed across the board.

RootMetrics is the company behind the report, with it having set up a pretty comprehensive project that at least gives customers something resembling objective findings.

Starting off by buying smartphones from each of the providers in Ireland, downloading a tailored app onto each and putting them through identical tests every few minutes, synced to the second, RootMetrics claims the subsequent ‘unbiased comparison’ best portrays the reality for customers in Ireland.

Its results don’t make for pretty reading for Three, which, starting with Cork, has lagged behind.

Finishing third of three for texting, calling, data performance and network speed – it actually ranked top for reliability – Three’s rating of 92.9 out of 100 sees it behind Meteor (94.7) and Vodafone (94.2).

In Dublin, Three ranked second for texting, and third on every other metric, finishing third with 93.4, behind Vodafone (96.0) and Eir Meteor (95.1).

In Limerick, things were a bit different, with Vodafone ranked the lowest (92.3), despite scoring highly on both texting and network speeds. Meteor topped the charts (96.7), with Three in second (94.8).








The testing is pretty cool. RootMetrics ran the software tests in multiple locations throughout the three cities, sometimes going beyond the city walls to absorb as many highly-populated areas as possible – for example, in Dublin, testing went as far out as Swords.

Dublin saw 36 locations used for testing, Limerick 27 and Cork 24, with each spot hosting hundreds of software runs, making the phones text at the same time, call, download, upload, send emails, watch videos etc.

“It takes a lot of investment and time to get the reports that we do,” said Scott Stonham, European GM of RootMetrics, when he first showed us the findings last week.

Same old story

Started up in 2008 when one of the founders realised each network provider was telling customers they were the best, the fastest, the most reliable, RootMetrics’ introduction into Ireland follows recent moves in France, Sweden and Spain, having operated in North America and the UK for a while now.

“To measure and rate these networks we need it to be scientific. We’re trying to test what is the mobile network performance for consumer, on the devices they are trying to use, doing the things they are trying to do and in the locations they’re doing it from,” said Stonham.

Thus the huge numbers of kilometres driven to each location to garner as full a grasp as possible (around 3,000km across the three cities).

RootMetrics Android

An example of the detail when measuring performance in an area. Image via RootMetrics

Not all about speed

“Look at all the pieces that make up a data award. In Dublin, Vodafone is top for speed. But speed is not just the fastest, it’s a combination. The median of the download speed and upload speed is key.”

Stonham and his team revisit locations after six months to run the tests all over again, with the top performance to be measured against, naturally, a bar that’s ever-raising as new technologies come on board, such as 3G, then 4G, on to 5G etc.

“We come back again after six months and, in that amount of time we should see improvements.” All providers rank quite highly, to be fair, with the mid-90s as overall scores nothing to be sniffed at. Do providers elsewhere ever drop below the 70 mark, for example? “Yes, yes we see that,” said Stonham. “But these scores reflect where we’re at in the development of the mobile ecosystem at the moment.”

Woman at Cliffs of Moher image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic