For those are going to travel Ireland and don’t know which mobile operator the best choice is to stay connected when exploring stunning Irish places. Let’s think to Vodafone, Three, and Eir, three major mobile providers in Ireland, offering a range of plans and mobile services. In this writing, we will provide you with considered things to while finding the best Ireland mobile operator. Let’s find out!

best mobile operator in ireland

1. List of Mobile Operators in Ireland

Ireland has three Ireland mobile operator that own and operate their own network infrastructure and a number of MVNO operators that operate mobile phone services and provide customers with a wide array of advanced digital services.

1.1. Main Ireland Mobile Operator

Eir SIM card and eSIM store

These are the three major mobile network operators in Ireland with 99% 4G population coverage and 5G rolling out across Ireland and other countries.

  • Vodafone is recognized as the best network mobile service in Ireland. They have over two million customers, achieving the Best Customer Service award at the 2023 Switcher Broad Band Awards
    They proudly claim 99% 4G coverage and have already launched 5G in select areas across 26 countries, providing customers with Ireland’s most reliable network experience across the country.
  • Three is another key Irish mobile operator with widespread coverage, with 99% 4G availability and 5G being implemented throughout every country. The company that boasts over 2 million subscribers.
  • Eir offers more than 99% 4G coverage across Ireland, and currently expanding the availability of 5G. Trusted by over 1 million Irish customers.

1.2. Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) in Ireland

ireland mobile operator image

With MVNOs, consumers have more choices beyond the traditional network carriers, as these virtual operators lease network infrastructure from the big players but offer their own unique services and plans.

Vodafone, Three, Eir have their own networks while the others are MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) that use the big three networks. 48, GoMo and Virgin Mobile use the Three network while Lycamobile uses the Vodafone network.

MVNOs frequently offer cost-effective, flexible plans compared to the main operators and no long-term contracts. However, they may not always have the same priority as the carrier’s direct customers, limited device options and less intensive network investment.

2. How to Choose the Best Ireland Mobile Operator

Before choosing mobile operator’s product, take a consideration on some key factors, such as the coverage, pricing, and speeds. 

  • Network Coverage:  Determine which carriers offer the most reliable coverage in your regions.
  • Data: If you use large amounts of data may prefer an unlimited plan than others have limited data packages.
  • Roaming:  Choosing a service provider that offers comprehensive EU roaming and international packages, if you often travel abroad.
  • Speeds: Average download and upload speeds are also important. Faster speeds will enhances activities like streaming, online gaming, or working remotely. However, speed test results can vary by location.
  • Price: Compare the price between operators to find the best and cost-effective providers.
  • Perks and Extras: Some providers offer extra perks like free streaming subscriptions, travel passes, rewards programs etc.

3. Best Mobile Operators in Ireland- Detailed Comparison

Let’s see the comparison table of Ireland’s big 3 mobile operators Vodafone, Eir, and Three to find the best option for you.

OperatorMarket ShareBandwidthCoverage4G CoveragePopular UsesAverage Price
Vodafone~35%1 Gbps+Widest nationwide coverageOver 90% populationStreaming, gaming, work callsPlans start at €20-30
Eir~30%500 MbpsStrong in major cities/townsOver 85% populationSocial media, basic browsingPlans around €15-25
Three~25%600 MbpsExpanding coverage outside citiesOver 80% populationMusic, messaging, basic usePrepaid SIMs from €10
  • Market share: Vodafone has the largest market share at around 35%. Follow immediatly by Eri with about 30% and th remaining market share belongs to Three, approximately 25%.
  • Network bandwidth: While Vodafone operator has nationwide 4G coverage of over 90%, Eir and Three have lower 4G coverage, over 85% and over 80% respectively.
  • Coverage: All three networks offer reliable 4G to most areas.
  • Main use: All support uses like calling, internet browsing, streaming etc. Vodafone is a great choice for work/business use due to its reliable fastest speeds. Three is popular for short-term visitors.
  • Pricing: Average monthly plans range from 10-30 euros across operators. Three is the most affordable option with pay-as-you-go SIMs from €10 and plans from €15-25 per month.

In summary, Vodafone has the widest coverage nationally, but their price is high a lot. Three offers best value while Eir has competitive mid-tier prices and coverage focused on populated areas. 

All three networks offer reliable 4G to most areas and are a great option for tourists to purchase a prepaid SIM during their stay in Ireland. Choice depends on priority of coverage, cost or preferred usage.

Swith the digital with
The easiest way to stay connected in Ireland.

4. Where to Buy SIM Card from Ireland Mobile Operators?

Buy SIM Card

There are a few options for getting a new SIM card when signing up with an Irish mobile operator:

  • Directly from the operator’s website – Most allow you to order a SIM for delivery or collection from a store. Easy but may have shipping fees.
  • Walk-in store locations – The major networks have extensive store networks where you can pick up SIM cards. Provides assistance too.
  • Third party retailers like eSIM Ireland – Large retailers often sell SIM cards from various operators.
  • Online marketplaces like Amazon – Reputable sellers on Amazon offer SIM cards for Irish operators. Fast delivery but no guidance.
  • Dublin Airport and other arrival points – Some airports and tourist centers have shops selling SIMs from Irish providers. Handy for new arrivals.
  • Prepaid vouchers from convenience stores/petrol stations – These allow you to top-up credit on a Pay As You Go plan. Easy for short trips.

When buying your SIM card for Ireland, ensure that you have appropriate identification such as your passport. Additionally, prepare an unlocked phone that is compatible with the network bands in Ireland. To save time, it is advisable to purchase your SIM card before traveling to Ireland to avoid lengthy lines at the airport. Consider using eSIM sellers like, as they provide instant delivery options. Choosing 30 days eSIM is the most suitable decision if you want to stay in Ireland more.

Convenient eSIM Plans Provide Savings

Ireland eSIM 10 Days
Ireland eSIM 10 Days
From $3.82
Ireland eSIM 20 Days
Ireland eSIM 20 Days
From $4.06

5. Do Ireland Mobile Operators Offer eSIM?

Ireland mobile operator image

eSIM technology, which allows you to activate a cellular plan through a digital profile instead of using a physical SIM card, is growing in availability from Irish operators. Here is the current landscape:

  • Three: One of the first operators to offer eSIM in Ireland. Customers can activate an eSIM online or via the Three app on compatible iPhone and Android devices.
  • Vodafone: Launched eSIM support in early 2022 for postpaid customers. Can provision an eSIM online through the Vodafone app for latest iPhone and Samsung devices.
  • Eir: Began trials of eSIM for selected business customers in late 2022 and plans to fully launch eSIM for public consumers in 2023 on iPhone and Samsung Galaxy models.

Most other MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) that operate on the big three networks do not currently support eSIM profiles.

So in summary, Three and Vodafone are the main providers fully supporting eSIM for postpaid/pay monthly plans in Ireland, while Eir is still in trial phases but plans to roll out support soon.

Note: Before buying eSIM for your devices, please check if they can work with eSIM by using eSIM compatibility list.

6. FAQs

Which mobile operator has the best coverage in Ireland?

Vodafone generally has the most extensive overall coverage across Ireland, with strong 4G connectivity nationwide. Three also has broad, fast 4G coverage at 96% of the population.

Which is cheaper – prepay or monthly contracts?

Prepaid plans with SIM top-ups tend to work out cheaper overall, but they lack some benefits of monthly plans like subsidized phones, EU roaming, unlimited data, etc. Monthly contracts offer better value if you need lots of data and perks.

Can I use my Irish SIM card in other European countries?

Most major Irish operators allow free roaming within the EU. But beware of data limits, throttling speeds, and any exclusions for special promotions or unlimited data plans. Always check roaming policies.

Do operators offer family or group plans?

Yes, many Irish providers like Vodafone and Three offer shared plans that allow multiple SIMs or devices under one account. These can provide discounts compared to separate individual plans.

What network has the fastest data speeds in Ireland?

Independent testing shows Three currently provides the fastest average 4G mobile download speeds at around 70+ Mbps, followed by Vodafone around 60Mbps. Three also has a very fast 5G network where available.

7. Conclusion

Choosing the right Ireland mobile operator takes research into coverage, speeds, plan costs and limits, customer service, and perks that suit your needs. Vodafone, Three and Eir emerge as solid choices with extensive networks and competitive plan options. Check coverage in your areas of use, data needs, speeds, and your budget. Read reviews and compare offers side-by-side to make the best choice of Irish mobile operator for your situation.