The machines are marching while 50pc of Irish people now use 4G

14 Dec 2018

Image: © charles taylor/

Three-quarters of fixed broadband connections are faster than 30Mbps but voice minutes and texts are declining thanks to popular apps such as WhatsApp.

The number of Irish mobile users accessing fourth-generation (4G) mobile services hit the 50pc mark during the third quarter of 2018, according to the latest report from telecoms regulator ComReg. This is up from 46pc a year earlier.

Overall, electronic communications network and service retail revenues at the end of Q3 2018 were more than €881m for the quarter, up 1pc on the previous year.

Machine-to-machine (M2M) subscriptions increased to 974,719, a 23.5pc annual increase, and made up 15.6pc of all mobile subscriptions in Q3 2018. Simply put, a serious percentage of Irish mobile subscribers aren’t human.

In Q3 2018, Vodafone Group had the largest market share of M2M subscriptions at 49.7pc followed by Three Group with 48.2pc of market share. Eir had the remaining 2.1pc of M2M subscriptions.

Texts and voice calls down while data usage surges

Postpaid mobile subscriptions are increasing, accounting for 57.5pc of subscriptions in Q3 2018, up from 54.7pc one year previously as prepaid subscriptions decline.

As of Q3 2018, the mobile operator with the highest proportion of postpaid subscriptions was Vodafone (65.9pc), followed by Three Group (59.7pc), Eir (52.4pc) and Tesco Mobile (15.6pc).

However, the impact of over-the-top (OTT) apps such as WhatsApp, Viber and Facebook Messenger, which take advantage of all-you-can-eat data packages, could be taking a toll on traditional telco operators’ revenue streams.

Total voice traffic minutes decreased by 1.1pc in Q3 and were 2.4pc lower than in Q3 2017. Mobile minutes form the majority of voice minutes at 79.6pc, with fixed minutes representing the remaining 20.4pc. The report shows that mobile voice minutes decreased by 1.6pc while fixed voice minutes increased by 0.8pc during the quarter.

On a monthly basis, an average mobile subscriber used: 208 voice minutes, a 1.2pc annual decrease; sent 74 texts, down 11.3pc annually; and used 6.1GB of data, a 36.8pc increase year on year.

On the broadband front, fixed broadband subscriptions were up 0.4pc to 1.4m subscribers in Q3, and up 2pc year-on-year. The estimated household fixed broadband penetration rate at the end of Q3 2018 was 68.3pc, up from 67.9pc in Q2 2018.

Average fixed broadband speeds continue to increase. In Q3 2018, approximately 86.5pc of all fixed broadband subscriptions were equal to or greater than 10Mbps, up from 83.3pc in Q3 2017. Of all fixed broadband subscriptions, 75.9pc were equal to or greater than 30Mbps, up from 70.5pc in Q3 2017.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years