Who is the best mobile phone carrier in Dublin?
August 18, 2011 8:41 AM   Subscribe

My cousin is moving to Dublin to go to medical school in two weeks. When he gets there, he wants to sign up for a mobile phone plan. He intends to get an iPhone 4 (not negotiable), and cannot wait until the 5 is announced for prices to drop. But which carrier does he go with?

He does do some travelling, but of course it is unclear how much he will travel in the first year. It will be important that it covers all of Dublin. As his father often has business in London, I assume it will need to cover London as well. His entire family lives in Montreal; I have no idea what the plans are when he goes back to visit, probably just text messaging. He will be getting high speed internet, but no landline and no cable tv, if this helps for bundles.

The cheapest plan that *has good service and coverage* is best.
posted by jeather to Technology (8 answers total)
Some experience of using an iPhone in Ireland. There are four carriers, I think--O2, Meteor, Vodafone and Tesco Mobile (which actually uses O2). As far as I can tell, coverage isn't a problem for any network--if your carrier doesn't have a tower handy they just hand you off to another carrier temporarily (same in the UK--I could go through all of the UK mobile carriers on the train journey between Bicester and Birmingham). All the carriers use the same standards so no problem from that point of view.

I was on O2, which seems OK from the service point of view, but I wouldn't guarantee it's the cheapest. All the carriers seem to charge a premium for iPhones on contracts, but this may be changing.

London is in a different country, remember, so anyone from Ireland is roaming there. Roaming charges between EU members are subject to some degree of price control from Brussels (so of course the carriers recovered their margins by increasing roaming charges elsewhere--thanks guys), but still get expensive quickly. He may be able to get a plan that has a concessional charge for calls to/from the UK though--many plans do this, on landline at least. Bear in mind, just in case it ever matters, that Belfast is in a different country too.

The only other comment I have on carriers is that Eircom, which owns Meteor, is apparently in serious financial trouble. This may be an indication that they will give good deals, or to avoid them because he might get stuck with a dead contract.

That's it for me. Tell him best of luck with it all--Ireland is wonderful and has some of the friendliest people on earth.
posted by Logophiliac at 9:32 AM on August 18, 2011

Three is also an iPhone provider, in addition to Logophiliac's list. (Tesco Mobile, O2, Vodafone, Meteor.)

All carriers will cover all of Dublin and, like, 99% of Ireland, and anywhere outside of Ireland is going to count as roaming - the phone will cover it but it will cost more money and data roaming will be punitively expensive if he doesn't switch that off (and by punitively, I mean hundreds into the thousands). I think your cousin needs to make a spreadsheet and comb through the websites looking for precisely the plan he needs - I wouldn't really worry about bundles and would recommend against mobile broadband in Ireland in general (beyond smartphones).

Here's some things he might consider:
- 16gb or 32gb?
- How long does he want the contract for? (For example, Three have a free iPhone 4 for a 24-month contract right now, but that's a 24-month contract...)
- What's the cost of each plan option including the phone, the monthly cost and his choice of package? Look at the total period of time.
- What are the roaming charges for the provider to the UK (so, his London trips, and Northern Ireland counts here as mentioned) and Canada?
- International call rates?
- Where is he going to purchase insurance? (That 24-month contract will still apply even if he's lost the phone and isn't using another, and my experience is that the replacement handset will cost the full, full price, not the initial discounted one.)

It's impossible to recommend the best option without knowing all of these things, so he's going to have to spend a few hours working through it methodically.
posted by carbide at 10:07 AM on August 18, 2011

I'd use O2 as the customer service for daughter while she was at UCD was good. Also most of my Irish family use viber app on iPhone to keep costs low while roaming in Europe. Once you have access to wi-fi calls are free. It's like Skype.
posted by Wilder at 10:20 AM on August 18, 2011

Just note that he may have to wait, as if he wants to go on Billpay, he'll need things he won't have, like Irish bank statements and bills if he tried to sign up in-store. You buy an iPhone 4 on Meteor online for €45 a month. I've been very happy with the service, and European roaming is the same as Irish calls. I would never call overseas from my mobile, so I can't help you there.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:22 PM on August 18, 2011

Response by poster: I will hear from my cousin shortly, but I assume he will be phoning his family and friends via Skype, not from his phone, but that he will want to be able to send and receive occasional text messages to facilitate things while in North America. (This is what another friend of mine does, from different European countries.)

So are all the major carriers good with coverage of the city, or do some of them have black spots?
posted by jeather at 3:45 PM on August 18, 2011

I've lived in Dublin for years and work with tech-savvy people and have never heard of a black spot in the city for any carrier. I've never experienced one either, and I've been with O2 and Vodafone for several years each.
posted by StephenF at 3:52 PM on August 18, 2011

There are no blackspots in Dublin, or any other outpost of Irish civilization. You have to go somewhere like way west Kerry, or Mayo, to have issues.

In terms of picking a provider, the regulator provides this calculator.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:16 PM on August 18, 2011

Response by poster: Many carriers here have areas where there is less coverage, even within cities. I am not trying to suggest that Dublin is some backwater. I am glad to know that coverage is good, though.
posted by jeather at 4:23 PM on August 18, 2011

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