Best Deals for TV and Broadband Bundles in Ireland

If you are looking for the cheapest  “triple play bundle” of TV , Broadband and Home Phone there are usually some good deals available from both Sky and Virgin Media .  These two companies are the two biggest digital TV subscription providers in Ireland.

Firstly –  apologies if you don’t live in an area covered by Virgin Media – because this comparison is not going to be any use to you. Virgin Media  (previously UPC) provide their TV , broadband and phone services via their own cable network – which is available in Dublin, Cork City, Galway City, Limerick City and many areas of County Dublin.

Sky provide their TV via satellite dishes  and their  broadband and phone via the national telephone network. Sky Fibre is only available in some areas of the country – but it should be available in all the places where Virgin Media is available.

So – how do Virgin Media and Sky Ireland compare on price – and what do you get for your money?

We did a comparison of the deals on offer in  May 2017 from Sky Ireland and Virgin Media Ireland.   We looked at packages with unlimited broadband, inclusive anytime phone calls and TV with around 50 channels.

Cheapest Bundles

We found a  package on Virgin Media – with  broadband with speeds upto 240Mb , Unlimited data, free calls to Irish landlines 24 hours a day and 50 TV channels on their Horizon box. The price is €85 per month with the first 12 months at just €49 a month. Total cost in the first year: €588. More Here

We found a deal from from Sky on Switcher.ie  including fibre broadband with speeds upto 100Mb (where available) , unlimited data and free calls to landlines all day as well as 55 TV channels.  The total cost of this in year one would be €798. (€66.50 a month for 12 months then €92 per month) .
The Virgin deal costs €210 less over the first 12 months.  You can switch again after 12 months if there is a better deal available.


What are the differences between the Virgin Media and Sky bundles ?

Broadband :The speed on the Virgin Media deal is faster , upto 240Mb compared to a maximum of  upto 100Mb with Sky. Sky uses the same phone lines  as Eir/vodafone while Virgin use their own cable network . The Virgin speeds should be better in the majority of cases.

TV: The difference in TV channels is negligible.  The main differences we could see is that with Sky you get Sky Atlantic and with Virgin you get a few more of the HD channels , Film 4 and Discovery. Virgin throw in FREE Netflix for 6 months.

Phone – Both bundles include anytime calls to Irish landlines.
With Virgin you also get 400 minutes per month of calls to landlines in 22 countries and USA mobiles.
With Sky you get unlimited free calls to landlines in the UK, USA and 18 other countries – which could come in very handy if you have friends or relatives overseas.

Overall there is not too much difference :-   But Sky works out at a good bit more expensive when comparing over  over the first year .
These prices were correct on May 26th 2017.

You can go for an upgrade with Sky to the “Variety” package with 103 channels – for an extra  €144 in year one .  ( Total €942 ) If you want to see the full range of Sky TV and broadband bundles – you can see them here and order online.

An upgrade with Virgin Media to their  “Full House” TV with 100 channels would work out at  €708 in the first year.  This beats the almost equivalent Sky bundle on price by more than €234 over 12 months. You can  find out more about Virgin Media TV and broadband deals and even order your bundle online at Switcher.ie

You might also want to take a look at our comparison of Broadband and Phone bundles where Vodafone come out as the best priced option .

 

Changes to EU Data Roaming Charges June 2017

EU Roaming Charges and Irish Mobile Providers

The European Commission promised in 2016  that “15th June 2017 will be the end of roaming charges in the EU”.  But is that really the case ?

Using an Irish network’s mobile phone outside Ireland (roaming)  has always resulted in some extra charges for calls, texts and especially data.   Charges for data while roaming in the EU  can currently cost  at least  €60 for 1GB – with some providers or plans costing even more.

The European Commission has been forcing the reduction of EU roaming charges  since 2007 and roaming charges within the EU have gradually fallen since then.  From June 2017 the intention was to abolish them altogether.

But –  mobile phone users need to be aware that it is not as simple as it seems – there are some “fair usage” clauses that will mean some mobile plans might still have data roaming limits and surcharges applied when using your phone outside Ireland in the EU .

Calls and texts should  not have any restrictions from June 15th 2017  – so   when you are in another EU country your Irish mobile provider must not charge you any more for calls and texts than they would if you were using your phone back home in Ireland. If you have a bundle or plan with an allowance of call minutes and texts – then any minutes/texts used while roaming should be deducted from this allowance.


Data Roaming in the EU is different.  Mobile providers are not always obliged to let you have your full Irish data allowance whilst roaming in the EU.
The European Commission states that :
If at home you have unlimited mobile data or very cheap mobile data, your operator may apply a safeguard (fair use) limit on data use while roaming. If this is the case, the operator will have to inform you in advance about such a limit and have to alert you in case you reach it.

The rules also say that if you exceed the data roaming limit , your mobile provider will be allowed to charge you a MAXIMUM of €7.70 + VAT (€9.47) per Gb.
This maximum charge is scheduled to fall each year – to €6/Gb + VAT as of 1 January 2018, €4.50/Gb + VAT in 2019, €3.50/Gb + VAT in 2020, €3/Gb + VAT in 2021 and €2.50/Gb + VAT in 2022.

What does “very cheap” mean ?  A mobile operator is only entitled to apply a roaming data limit in 2017 where you pay less than €4.73/GB of data used. (€3.85 ex VAT)

So – if you’re getting data for less than €4.73 per Gb – your deal is classed as “very cheap”    by the EU and you will probably not get your full data quota for free when EU roaming.
This restriction would include some of the best SIM only deals such as Virgin’s €25  for 30Gb and Three’s €30 for 60Gb .

In cases where a mobile operator is providing an unlimited or “very cheap” data  service, the company can cap free roaming data volumes at twice what the customer would be able to buy at the wholesale price with the value of their contract/bundle.

So – to work out the allowed cap on EU data roaming –  providers should divide the cost of your monthly tariff  by the EU wholesale rate per GB then double it .

A simpler way of putting it is this:

1) If the cost of your monthly plan or bundle divided by the number of Gb of data you can use in a month  is more than €4.73  – then you should not get any limits on your data use when roaming in the EU. You should be allowed to use your full “at home” data while in the EU.

I.e –  Plan costing €15 with 2Gb data = €7.50 per Gb so you should be able to use 2Gb in the EU.
A Plan costing €25 with 5Gb of data – works out at €5 per Gb – so there should be no caps on EU data when roaming .

2) If  restrictions to data roaming are applied  – this is what should happen :  –
Minimum Number of  Roaming Gb = Monthy Price of plan divided by 4.73

Examples of valid Data Restrictions
a) 
At home you have a mobile bundle that includes unlimited calls, SMS and 10 GB of data for €30 (€24.39 excluding 23% VAT). The data is  treeated as costing €3 per Gb – so a restriction may be applied.   When travelling in the EU, you will get unlimited calls and SMS, and at least 6.3 GB of data (€30/4.73)  = 6.3)

Another example :  a €30 SIM only  bundle that includes “all you can eat data” in Ireland (60Gb cap)  . Using the calculation above; €30 divided by 4.73 =  should mean  6.3Gb  of allowed EU roaming data (minimum).

Three were originally trying to get around the new EU rules by saying that the “All you can eat data remains available to customers, for free and for use at home, as an additional service.”
They have now changed their stance  (May 19th) and now say “Three is applying the roaming regulation Fair Use Policy. This means that customers will get a generous data allowance for use in the EU and charged a surcharge for usage in excess of the allowance”

Three prepay customers who top up by €20 get “all you can eat data”  which is capped at 60Gb in Ireland . Based on the EU calculation guidelines (€20 divided by 4.73 = 4.2Gb )  they should allow 4.2Gb of EU roaming data for no extra charge. They will be allowing 5GB . Any usage over that 5Gb will be charged at 0.92c per Mb ( €9.20 per Gb) – which fits with the new EU guidelines from June 15th 2017.

BUT – If Three prepay customers  , who don’t top up by €20 or more, use data whilst roaming – they  will be then be charged €1.01 per Mb. That is €1010.00 per GB !!! (figs)

When you cross an EU border after 15 June 2017, you should get a text message from your Irish network provider   informing you that you are roaming. That  message should inform you of any fair use policy on roaming applied by your operator.

Meteor Prepay –  have various top up bundles and these are the new EU data caps on them from June 15th:  (all in line with EU guidelines)
€10 for 7.5Gb at Home = 2.1Gb in EU
€20 for 15GB at  home = 4.2GB in EU
€30 for 15GB at home = 6.3Gb in EU

Meteor Billpay – no details yet (25 May)

Eir will probably do the same as Meteor – since they are all part of the same company.

Vodafone have said that they will not be restricting EU data – and that Irish cutomers will have their full quota of calls texts and data whilst roaming in the EU. Their biggest amount of data included on prepay is just 5Gb – so they won’t need to worry about caps on such low levels.
Vodafone also say that calls to any EU numbers whilst roaming will be taken from any call & text allowance included in your plan.

ID Mobile :- Their billpay bundles that include data of 500Mb , 1Gb or 3GB will just treat EU data the same as data in Ireland. On their package that includes 7GB  for €10 they are capping EU data at 5.6GB. The 30GB deal for €13 will be capped at 6.3GB when roaming in the EU. All these are better than the EU suggested restrictions.
Id mobile prepay customers who top-up by €15 or more will  get 3.3GB of your 30GB –  which is  just as the EU rules say it should be.

Virgin Media Ireland  will allow 5.5Gb of EU roaming data on their €25  a month bundle that includes “unlimited” data in Ireland .   This is in line with EU guidelines.

Tesco Mobile haven’t finalised what they are doing about roaming charges from June 2017.

Lycamobile  have said that customers will not be able to use their bundle allowances while roaming in the EU after June 15th 2017 – but customers  will be charged the standard domestic rate for all calls texts and data while roaming.  We await to see if this satisfies European guidelines – probably not.

Compare SIM Only Deals

Reference

 

New Bin Charges by Weight 2017

Pay by weight Bin Charges were originally due to become compulsory in Ireland  from July 1st 2016  – but they were suspended for a year after worries over bin charge price  increases.  The move to a nationwide pay-by-weight scheme for bins was not very popular,  mainly because of concerns of some that it would increase charges.  After just a few days of pressure – the government gave in and agreed with the  bin companies to suspend the introduction of pay by weight charging for 12 months until July 2017 .

The Department of  Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is undertaking a review of pricing structures for household waste collection.   The review is  looking at the possible future pricing structures to incentivise the prevention and segregation of household waste.

Note :  Whilst the current charging system will remain in place,  until July 2017 – householders will have the option to switch to the pay-by-weight system before then.

The new legislation on bin charges was due to come into force on July 1st 2016   – and it was supposed to result in  people paying  less if they produce less  waste .  At least 20% of households in Ireland already have bin charges based on pay-per-weight.

The compulsory charging by weight method will  hopefully encouragedmore recycling and reduce the amount of waste going into landfill.  Some people would have ended up paying less under the proposed 2016  charges – especially if they recycled more and put less waste in the black bins.  But it seems that many others would have paid  more – mainly those who already recycled a lot or have a small amount of waste. These people would have been hit by increased fixed annual service charges.

Faced with a potential loss of income if people disposed of less waste – it appears that some  bin companies  adjusted their charging methods to try and maintain income levels. Many of them increased their service charges drastically.

One benefit of the proposed new pay by weight charging system is that people will be able  put their bins out as often as they want and they will not be charged any more (in most cases) . So people will no longer have to put up with  bins full of a month’s worth of stinking rubbish outside the door .

Most bin companies will not be charging anything for the  recycling bins – so some people could reduce their overall bin charges by increasing the amount they recycle – thus reducing the weight in the standard waste bin (black).

In  July 2016 Minimum by weight charges were going to be set at the following rates :
11c/kg for(standard non recyclable) – usually Black Bins
6c/kg for organic/food  waste (usually a brown bin)
0c/kg for  recycling bins (Usually green)

There were  no maximum charges  per kg set in the new legislation. (This may change in July 2017)

Note: If you live in a town with a population of over 500 – your bin provider is obliged to give you a brown bin for food waste and other organic waste. Food waste is typically the heaviest waste – so by putting all your food waste in the brown compost bin you will pay a lower charge than you would if you put it in with the general waste.

Waste is typically split into Black bins for general waste,  Brown Bins for organic waste and  Green bins for recycling. In Dublin these bin colours seem to be standard for all bin collectors. In some areas of the country  they have different coloured bins.

Update May 2017

Greyhound started charging extra for black bin bags that exceed 42 kilograms (92 pounds) in May 2017 . Thay will charge 30 cent per kilo over the 42kg limit.

Panda have todl customers that  new weight limit of 40 kilograms per black bin lift will come into effect from July for health and safety reasons.  Thay say they will charge 27.7c per kg Over the 4oKg limit.


Bin Charges Compared July 2016 (These are the rates some of the  bin companies were planning to charge before the suspension was announced )

Green recycling bins are all zero charge unless stated otherwise.

Thorntons €104 annual service charge . 35c per kg black bin and 20c per kg for brown bin

Greyhound  €169 annual service charge   35c /kg for black bin ; 23c/kg brown bin. (They charge different prices for different areas)

Panda (Fingal)  €86 Annual Charge ; Black bin €3.20 per lift plus 27c per kg ; Brown Bin €2.56 per lift plus 16c per kg

City Bin  Dublin €155.48 service chg  20c/kg Black , 20c/Kg Brown

City Bin Athlone  €180 Annual Service chg ;  26c/kg Black   16c/kg Brown
OR €120 Ann an 35c per KG  20c/kg Brown

Barna – Galway  €144 annual charge  ; Black Bin 19c per kg; Green Bin 8c per kg; Brown bin €0.10 per kg.

Barna (Mayo)  Annual Charge €204 ; Black bin (General waste) 22c /kg  ; Brown Bin (compost) 12c/kg

Ray Whelan (Carlow)  Service Charge €168   ; Black bin  23c/kg ;Brown  16c/kg

Greenstar Cork – €234 annual service charge , Black Bin 18c /kg ; Brown bin   14c/kg
Greenstar Fingal €156 ann  33c/kg black bin , 20c/kg brown
Greenstar NW  €100 ann , 35c /kg black , 20c/kg Brown ;  5c/kg recycling (green)

AES – €180- ann chg , 25c/kg black , 15c/kg brown

McGraths (Co Mayo)  €352  annual  charge – which includes 300kg of residual waste (black bin)  After that they    at charge 22 cent per KG.


When (if)  everyone starts  being charged by weight – there might be a few sneaky people who start dumping waste into other people’s bins to try and reduce their own bin charges.  It will happen. You could buy one of these bin locks to stop that happening

There will probably be more roadside dumping of general waste and more garden burning of waste too – by people trying to to avoid these charges.

Will it Work ?

A national  survey in 2010 comparing household waste found that on average – homes with a pay-by-weight bin charges put 800kg a year in their bins  compared to 1294kg in pay-per-lift areas. This is a decrease of  38%.
The same survey also found that the average recycling rate for pay-by-weight households was 32% compared to just 20 or 21% for other charging methods.  ref

 

Euro Sterling Exchange Rate Update

Euro Sterling Exchange Rate  : May 23rd 2017 10am

GBP = 1.15 EUR

1 EUR = 0.87 GBP

See Latest  Exchange Rates Here

Over the course of the past week Sterling has dropped against the Euro by over 2% . To put this sort of move into monetary terms, purchasing €300,000 on Monday last week would today cost over £5,000 more

Three weeks ago a  EURO was worth  £0.8453 GBP.  Today , the Sterling to Euro exchange rate was  close to  £0.87
The Euro has also been helped by  France’s newly elected President Emmanuel Macron appointing his Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe. Philippe is a centre-right Republican and not from Macron’s new Centrist party. Macron’s choice is seen as an attempt to draw in key figures from both the left and right of French politics.

The upcoming UK elections could well see some volatility  for the Pound . With Merkel aiming to strengthen the euro in the near future and strenuous Brexit talks weighing heavily on the pound, could we soon see GBP/EUR below the lows we saw in October last year?

Over the past several months Brexit has cast a cloud of uncertainty over the currency markets. If you think that the last 9 months were volatile for the currency markets, brace yourself, as the next 2 years are likely to be even more so.

With so much  uncertainty in the currency markets at the moment –  it could get very stressful for people or businesses planning large Euro / Sterling exchanges in the next few months.   We are likely to be entering a period of heightened volatility which, depending on your timescales and budget, could cause problems if you are not properly prepared.

Using a Currency Exchange specialist  can remove some of the uncertainty by allowing you to fix an exchange rate as much as 12 months in advance of your transfer.  For good deals on large amounts of currency exchange –  for personal money or  for businesses – see our page on how to get the Best Exchange Rates

You might also be interested in this information about Transferring  Money from Ireland to a UK Bank

If you are just looking to buy some Pounds , Dollars  or other foreign cash for a holiday  – take a look at our page about the best place to buy travel currency in Ireland

 

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