Ireland has the same requirements for contracts as UK, so the menu again had only prepaid on it. In the prepaid broadband-ish market, there are only two contenders.
This is who we settled on, after failing to get along with Meteor. 3 Ireland are a little challenging for passers-through, as they refuse to sell you pre-paid Internet without selling you an insanely expensive USB modem as well (we’re talking 70-something Euros for the entry-level modem).
However, it was a friendly 3 attendant who proposed the solution we are implementing: Go ahead and buy the modem, then you have 14 days in which to return it. It just so happens when we decided to go with 3, we only had about 12 days left in Ireland, so it’s just fine with us — we’ll drop into Wexford on our way out. We bought the really expensive model. This strategy would presumably work longer-term as long as you were able to find a 3 store within the 14 day period, and another different store to buy a new modem for the next 14 day period. Still, screw you, 3. Get a clue.
3 Ireland have a different pre-paid scheme to the UK — it’s more time-oriented, with top-up packages in 1 day (€5 I think, with 500 MB quoto), 1 week (€10, 2 GB quoto), and 1 month (€25, 10 GB quota). In their infinite wisdom, they only offer top-up vouchers in increments of €10, so if you were after the €5 or €25 package, you gotta fork over an extra €5.
Their coverage and service quality isn’t fantastic, but neither is 3 UK, or any other carrier I’ve ever been with, to be honest. It’ll do.
Incidentally, although the attendant in Galway warned me against using anything but their modem on the network, my iPhone works brilliantly with it. I just put the SIM card in there, enabled tethering with Ben M’s brilliant profile generator, and all is well.
This was a tricky one — Originally, Meteor’s PAYG plan seemed like a reasonable choice. €1 per day with a 50 MB/day limit was restrictive, but at least they don’t force you to buy a modem you don’t want.
However, firstly, 50 MB gets you nowhere, and secondly, their coverage and quality are absolutely appalling. Where 3 gives perfectly usable 3G, Meteor give you flaky/unusable EDGE or GPRS. Outside major urban centres, you’ll get GPRS which may, if you’re lucky, load a page of Google search results. You won’t be able to load images or even post to Twitter, though, I found. Awful. Steer clear.