There are different options to help you stay connected and access the internet from your home.
The internet connection you can get will depend on where you live, the infrastructure in place and the service providers that operate in your area.
The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) provides information on internet services. You can compare charges for internet services and combined packages across all operators. Use the website to help select the best package for your internet needs.
Broadband speeds and connections
Broadband is high speed internet access. Speeds are measured in Mbps (megabits per second), often shortened to Mb. The higher the number of Mbps or Mb, the faster the connection and online activity should be.
Download and upload speeds
You should check download and upload speeds when comparing broadband packages.
This is the speed you can receive content from the internet, for example, download a song or watch a movie on streaming services like Netflix.
This is the speed you can send content, for example, to send an email or upload a photo to a website.
'Up to' and 'unlimited'
Many ISPs say ‘up to’ a certain Mbps or Mb of download or upload speed when advertising plans. This is because the speed that you can get in your home will depend on:
- The type of connection you have
- The modem or router you use
- Where you live
- How your mobile, tablet, or PC are connected, it could be directly to the modem or through WiFi.
Many broadband plans offer ‘unlimited’ data. This is often subject to a ‘fair usage’ policy. Service providers must make sure that usage limits or ‘fair usage’ policies are explained in the terms and conditions in a clear and understandable way.
Flat rate and extra charges
Broadband plans are usually offered at a flat rate which means that you will be charged the same for internet services every month.
If you go over the monthly data allowance this could mean extra charges. The ISP may also need to send out a technician which could mean extra charges for installation.
Broadband is often offered as part of a package or bundle with TV or home phone. These types of packages can be good value but only if you plan to use them. Make sure you are happy with what is being offered for each part of the bundle (for example the data speed, the amount of TV channels and the calls included for home phone) before you sign the contract.
ComReg has an independent price guide to help you compare the cost of broadband packages.
Internet services and your rights
ComReg is a statutory body responsible for regulating the communications sector. All providers must be registered with ComReg before they can provide an electronic communications network or service. Find out more about regulation of postal services, phone, internet and TV.
Your right to basic internet access
You have a right to good quality electronic communications, including basic internet access, under the Universal Service Directive. There should be at least one internet provider who can provide basic internet service to you.
Information you must get when you sign up
Before you sign up, your internet service provider must give you:
- The name and address of the service provider
- Details of the service
- The quality levels (for example, download speeds)
- Details of the pricing and charges
- How long the contract is and how to renew or cancel it
- Information about your right to compensation or refund if service quality levels are not met
When you sign up to a new contract, you can only be tied into the contract for 24 months (2 years) or less.
Your consumer rights are set out in the European Communities (Electronic Communications Networks and Services) (Universal Service and Users' Rights) Regulations 2011.
Other consumer rights
You also have the following consumer rights when you sign up to an internet contract:
- Get what you paid for: your provider must provide the service they have sold you. You can expect to get a service that works as described in your contract.
- Clear contract terms: that are in clear, plain and understandable language and do not put you at an unfair disadvantage.
- Fair sales practices: providers must not use misleading or aggressive sales practices that could affect your decision to buy.
- Changes to your contract terms: can only be made after you have got 30 days’ notice and the option to leave the contract. This includes price changes.
Cancelling your contract
You should check the terms and conditions of your contract to find out what your cancellation rights are. You could have to pay a fee to cancel a contract.
Your legal right to cancel the contract for free depends on whether you signed up by phone, in person, or online.
You signed up by phone or online
You can cancel the contract if you signed up less than 14 days ago over the phone or online. This is called a ‘cooling-off’ period. If you’ve already used the service, you are likely to be charged for what you have used.
If you cancel outside of the cooling off period, you may be charged a penalty fee or pay off the rest of your contract. Check the terms and conditions of your contract.
You signed up in person
You have no legal right to a 14-day cooling-off period if you signed up in person in a shop.
Any costs and charges for cancelling your contract should be made clear in your contract and at the point of sale.
When comparing internet service providers and plans, think about:
- Price of the contract and what’s included in the price (for example, TV and landline)
- Charges and fees (are there connection charges, monthly rental fees, call costs, disconnection or reconnection charges?)
- What speed you need
- What data limits apply and are they enough?
- Minimum contract period
- Penalties for ending the contract early
- Network coverage in your area
Before you switch, contact your current provider to check if any cancellation period or penalties apply.
If your broadband service needs a telephone line to access the internet, you will probably need your Universal Account Number (UAN) to switch. This is usually on your bill, but if you can’t find it, you can ask your existing provider.
Once you have picked a plan, you can sign up by:
- Giving your consent over the phone and having that conservation recorded
- Signing a customer authorisation form
- Filling in an online customer authorisation form
Check if your new service provider will contract your old service provider to start the change-over and if there is anything else you need to do to help with this.
You can get your bills by email or through the provider’s website. If you can’t get bills in an electronic format because of limited access to the internet or other issues, the provider must give you a paper bill for free. You must be told when the bill is available online (for example, by text message).
You may receive a single bill for a bundle (home phone, broadband and TV) but if you make calls, texts or data outside your allocated allowance, you will be charged at a much higher rate.
When you switch to a new provider, your first bill may be higher than expected. This is because you are paying from the date your service was connected as well as the price plan for the month ahead.
ComReg has more information about internet billing.
Monitor your usage
Make sure you know how to monitor your usage. You can ask your provider to notify you when you reach the limit of your bundle.
Some service providers provide you with alerts when you reach your package limit without you having to ask for this. Some service providers only do this if you ask. You should check this, so that you avoid bill shock.
Most service providers will try to notify you if your data downloads are likely to result in very high bills. You should check this with your service provider.
If you get a bill that you think is incorrect you should raise this immediately with your service provider as a complaint.
You should give your provider 10 working days to investigate and resolve the billing issue. If they haven’t resolved the issue or you’re not happy with the response, you can contact ComReg who can escalate your complaint with your service provider on your behalf.
See more information below on making a complaint.
Making a complaint
If you have a problem with the contract or the service (for example, network coverage issues or billing disputes), contact your provider to try sort out the issue.
If you can’t fix the problem informally, you can complain in writing to the internet service provider.
If you are not happy with the response, you can contact ComReg for more advice and help.
ComReg’s customer care team are available by:
- Live web chat
- Online form
- Email to email@example.com
- Text with the word COMREG to 51500 (standard SMS rates apply) to receive a call back from the customer care team
- Phone on 01 8049668
- Irish sign language through the Consumer Line at firstname.lastname@example.org or SLIS at email@example.com and an appointment will be arranged
ComReg has detailed information about internet contracts.
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