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Mobile Telephone Networks in Ireland

Information

The choice for consumers of mobile phone and other mobile services has never been so great. There are also many different brands of mobile phone handset available. This document explains some of the services provided by telephone service providers and your rights when accessing these services

There are a number of telephone networks in Ireland. Each mobile telephone network is operated by a different provider. In order for a mobile telephone service provider to gain access to the market, they must be licensed by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).

Each of the mobile telephone service providers offers different packages to consumers. ComReg has developed a website called www.callcosts.ie which allows consumers to compare mobile phone charges across all operators. The site assists consumers to select the optimum mobile phone package, based on their individual usage.

If you buy a mobile phone you have a contract with the mobile phone service provider. The type of contract depends on whether you choose a Pre-pay or Post-pay mobile telephone service:

  • Pre-pay services means that you pay as you go and you buy credit on your phone from various outlets such as shops, bank machines and over the phone.
  • Post-pay service means that you receive a bill for all the calls that you make.

Within these two different types of contract there are also many variations. When choosing a mobile phone package, ask yourself:

  • When do you expect to make most of your calls (at peak or off peak times)
  • Will you use SMS (short messaging service or text messaging) more than voice calls
  • Which service providers are being used by the people whom you are likely to be calling

The answers to these questions will inform you as to the right package for you.

Peak and Off-peak rates

Peak times are normally during the day when most people and businesses are making calls. Generally calls cost more during "Peak" times. "Off peak" rates are normally in the evenings, night and at weekends. Calls can cost a lot less during these periods. Make sure you know the times and rates for "peak" and "off peak" as these may change with different mobile phone call packages.

Changing your mobile telephone service provider

It is possible to change from one service provider to another service provider and retain your existing mobile telephone number. However, before changing to a new service provider you should first check what contractual obligations you have to your existing service provider. Under new EU rules that have being introduced, provision has been made to ensure that a consumer can move their number from one service provider to another within one working day.

Rules

Remember that the mobile phone handset that you buy is protected under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, 1980. This means that any mobile telephone handset or other telecommunications item you buy should be

  • As described - on the marketing material or by the sales person
  • Fit for its purpose (i.e. suitable for using as a mobile telephone handset)
  • Of merchantable quality (i.e. fit to be sold and used by a customer)

If the handset or other piece of mobile equipment that you buy from a mobile phone service provider or other retailer becomes faulty you can return it and you can get a repair replacement or a refund. The legislation does not specify what kind of redress the retailer has to give you but you should expect that it will be reasonable. You can read about how to complain here. If you have exhausted the complaints mechanism of the mobile phone service provider and you are still dissatisfied you can take your claim to the Small Claims Court.

3G Services

The term 3G is a term for "Third Generation Mobile Telephone Technology". Third generation mobile systems provide high-speed data transmissions and improved support for multimedia applications such as full-motion video, video conferencing and Internet surfing.

Mobile phone insurance

Mobile phone insurance like other types of insurance, insures the handset against loss, theft, etc. . Many mobile insurance policies offer to protect your mobile in specific situations, such as accidental damage, from theft, loss, water damage, accidental damage and more. Often when you purchase a mobile telephone, you may be asked whether you require mobile phone insurance. Check the initial amount that you need to pay before the insurance company will pay for any loss or damage to insured items. This initial amount you must pay , is called the excess. If you have home and contents insurance for your home the theft of your mobile phone may be covered by that insurance – you can check this with your insurance company. Specific mobile phone insurance may cover other items such as calls made by unscrupulous people.

Mobile phone roaming

When you purchase a bill pay mobile telephone in Ireland, you sign a contract for a service that allows you use a combination of services such as phone calls, text and picture messaging etc,.. All consumers should be fully aware of what their contract terms and conditions. If your service provider allows you to use your mobile phone when you travel you can be charged ‘roaming rates’. Roaming’ is the ability to use your mobile phone while abroad. You should be aware that the charges for using your phone when roaming are are different to the rates charged when making calls at home.

Since 30 August 2007 a price limit called a Eurotariff places a cap on the price you can be charged for using your mobile phone while travelling in the EU. The price limits (excluding VAT) are as follows:

From 1 July 2011 From 1 July 2012 From 1 July 2013 From 1 July 2014
Voice calls made (per min) 35 cent 29 cent 24 cent 19 cent
Voice calls received (per min) 11 cent 8 cent 7 cent 5 cent
SMS sent (per SMS) 11 cent 9 cent 8 cent 6 cent
Data (per MB) none 70 cent 45 cent 20 cent

There is information on the Eurotariff here.

The price limits given above only apply when roaming within the EU. It is advisable to contact your service provider in advance of travelling abroad to see what charges will apply if you use your phone in another country. You can read more information about mobile phone roaming on ComReg's website www.askcomreg.ie.

Mobile phone internet roaming bills

Mobile phone operators must provide their customers with a cut-off spending limit of €50 (excluding VAT) a month on their internet surfing bill when roaming within the EU, although a customer can opt for a higher limit. When 80% of the cash limit has been reached, the operator has to warn you that you are approaching the limit and will be cut off, unless that limit is changed. From 1 July 2012 these measures also apply when roaming outside the EU.

From 1 July 2014 you will be able to use a separate roaming services provider while continuing to use the same handset and phone number.

More information is available on the EU Commission's website.

If your phone is stolen

Every handset sold has a unique number called an IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identification) number. Record this information and register it with your mobile phone service provider when you buy the handset. If your phone is stolen report the theft immediately to the Gardaí and your mobile phone service provider who can then ensure that the phone is made unusable on all networks. Contact your mobile phone service provider for further information on this scheme.

Children and Mobile phones

Many children in Ireland and abroad use mobile phones. Modern mobile phones are means by which the internet can be accessed and can be used to transmit video and other images which may or may not be appropriate for children. The Irish Cellular Industry Association has published A parent's guide to mobile phones (pdf) which explains good practice with regard to mobile phone use for children. The Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland in association with the Office for Internet Safety operates a website www.hotline.ie where you can report instances of child pornography that you may come across.

Making a complaint

If you have an issue with your mobile phone 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.

Rates

Different service providers charge different rates for mobile service packages – it’s up to you to research the different rates and to see where you can get best value for money for the services that you use.

If you are aged 70 or over, or you are receiving a social welfare payment, you may be eligble for a Telephone Allowance from the Department of Social Protection through its House Hold Benefits Package.

If you have a problem with your mobile phone handset and you fail to get satisfaction from the retailer where you bought your mobile phone you can go to the Small Claims Court.

Where To Apply

Commission for Communications Regulation

Block DEF
Abbey Court
Irish Life Centre
Lower Abbey Street
Dublin 1
Ireland

Tel:(01) 804 9668
Locall:1890 229 668
Fax:(01) 804 9680
Homepage: http://www.askcomreg.ie/
Email: consumerline@comreg.ie

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

PO Box 12585
Dublin 1
Ireland

Opening Hours:- Lines open Monday - Friday 9am - 6pm
Tel:(01) 402 5500
Locall:1890 432 432
Fax:(01) 402 5501
Homepage: http://www.consumerhelp.ie/


Page updated: 1 June 2012

Language

Gaeilge

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Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.