Fixed line telephone services
Many companies in Ireland offer fixed line telephone services to consumers. Fixed line means that your telephone is not wire free but physically connected to a point on a wall in your home or office. The type of fixed line service you choose will depend on your needs.
Universal Service Obligation (USO)
Before the telecommunications market was liberalised in the late 1990s, all telecommunications services in Ireland were provided by State company Telecom Éireann. Telecom Éireann was privatised in 1999 and is now known as Eir.
ComReg, the regulator for the electronic communications and postal sectors, has put in place a system to ensure that a basic set of telecommunications services is available to all consumers throughout the country. This is known as the principle of Universal Service. Eir is the designated Universal Service Provider (USP) and has a number of obligations regarding the supply of certain services.
You can find out more about the Universal Service Obligation on ComReg’s website.
Choosing or changing your service provider
Your relationship with a telephone service provider is based on a consumer contract. When shopping around it is important to compare the different terms and conditions which apply in different contracts. These may include, for example, prices for line rental and calls. Before you change contracts, it is wise to know the specific terms and conditions of your current contract so that you can compare them to the terms and conditions of a new contract.
You should also review a few of your most recent telephone bills and establish your calling pattern (i.e. what type of calls you frequently make and at what time of day), and then shop around and ask the different companies about their call charges. You should ask each operator to provide you with a printed price list in order to check and compare tariffs.
The following questions will also assist you in making your decision:
- Is there a minimum charge or a set up charge for each call you make?
- How does the phone company charge for calls - per second or per minute?
- Are there any additional charges such as connection fees?
- What are their day, evening and weekend times?
- How long is the change over likely to take?
- Do you need to sign up for a set period of time?
- Do you have to spend a minimum amount per month?
- Are there any special discount schemes?
- What penalties will be applied if you decide to opt-out of your contract obligations early?
It is also important to note that you may need to contact your existing operator in advance of changing service provider to check to see if any cancellation notice or cancellation period/penalties apply.
Switching your fixed line service provider normally takes approximately 10 days from the date you signed-up. You should ask your new service provider about its commitments about switching in its code of practice and customer guarantee scheme. Under EU rules the porting of numbers and their subsequent activation shall be carried out within the shortest possible time. When you have concluded an agreement to port a number to a new service, that number should be activated within one working day.
All you need to do to change service provider is either sign a contract or indicate over the telephone that you would like to subscribe to a new service provider. The process of giving your consent to a service provider by phone is known as Third Party Verification (TPV for short) and involves a series of questions that you need to answer. The TPV is recorded and is as legally binding as signing a contract.
The new service provider will contact your old service provider to let them know that you will no longer need their services. Your old service provider will then write a letter to you stating that you have consented to changing service providers. You only need to reply to this letter if you do not wish to change your service provider.
Companies offering fixed line telephone services to Irish consumers need to be authorised by ComReg.
Cooling off period
If you have entered into a contract with a new service provider, you may have a minimum cooling off period (your rights depend on the nature of the contract and the method of sale). You should ask your new provider, when signing up about a cooling off period and how to cancel the contract within this period.
Direct marketing and telephone service providers
Telephone service providers often circulate material advertising their services. If you do not wish to receive direct marketing calls from any company you can register this preference with the National Directory Database. Read about dealing with unwanted telephone sales calls.
After you have changed service providers your old service provider cannot contact you in relation to your service for three months.
Consumers now have the option of choosing single billing which means that you receive just one bill from the service provider of your choice for every aspect of your telephone service requirements - including all calls and line rental. You will have to check that your chosen service provider does offer the single billing facillity.
Regarding ancillary services, such as call waiting or call answering etc., you will need to contact your new operator to ask if these are available. Your internet settings and broadband services should not be affected if you select a new service provider for line rental and calls. Your new service provider will provide you with further details.
You can read ComReg’s leaflet Introducing Single Billing (pdf).
Carrier Pre-Selection (CPS) allows you to opt in advance for certain types of calls, such as international calls, to be carried by a particular operator. There is no need to dial a prefix or follow any different procedure prior to connecting the call. You receive two separate bills – one from your CPS operator for call charges and one from your line rental provider.
Making a complaint
If you have an issue with your telephone service provider, you should contact your provider, outline your complaint and ask for it to be resolved. If you are not satisfied with the outcome you should contact ComReg who may be able to help resolve the issue. Information on making a complaint to ComReg is available on its consumer website.
Different service providers charge different rates depending on the type of call you are making and when you make the call. It’s up to you to research the different rates to see where you can get best value for money based on your calling pattern and services you want to use.
ComReg's website allows consumers to compare
fixed line telephone charges across all operators. The site assists
consumers to select the optimum phone package, based on their individual
How to apply
ComReg provides information which may help you choose a service provider.