Mobile telephone networks
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's website 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 2 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 following measures were announced on 15 April 2020, to help you remain connected for calls and data during the COVID-19 emergency:
- If you are a fixed broadband customers and do not have unlimited usage already as standard, you can upgrade your package (which may be on a temporary basis), with your current service provider
- If you do not have fixed broadband and you rely solely on mobile access to the internet, you can avail of affordable unlimited mobile data access/package from your service provider
- Service provides will not automatically apply fair usage policies to unlimited fixed and mobile data packages. However, they can implement appropriate permitted traffic management measures to avoid network congestion.
- Where technically feasible, access to healthcare and educational resource websites identified by the Government will be free for all customers
- Service providers will help if you are in financial difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 emergency and have difficulty paying your bills. Your provider will help to agree an affordable solution to keep you connected for calls and data.
- Service providers will work with ComReg on complaints from consumers who feel they are not being treated fairly in relation to these commitments
All major providers have signed up to the Covid-19 Consumer Commitments, including BT Ireland, eir, Pure Telecom, Sky Ireland, Tesco Mobile Ireland, Three Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland and Vodafone. Check the website of your provider for more details.
The commitments will remain in place until at least 30 June 2020.
You can read more in the full Government announcement.
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 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.
Price cap for calls and SMS text messages between EU States
EU regulations in effect since 15 May 2019, caps the cost for mobile phone customers when making calls or sending SMS text messages from Ireland to countries in the European Economic Area (EEA).
This means that mobile phone customers will be charged no more than 23.37 cent per minute for a fixed or mobile voice call and 7.38 cent per SMS message.
You can read more information about price caps for calls and SMS text messages between EU States on ComReg's website.
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 EU rules provision has been made to ensure that a consumer can move their number from one service provider to another within one working day.
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 (that is, suitable for using as a mobile telephone handset)
- Of merchantable quality (that is, 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. 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.
4G is a term for fourth generation mobile telephone technology and follows on from 2G and 3G. 2G technology was suitable for making calls and sending text messages while 3G makes it possible to access the internet more effectively through your mobile phone. 4G services should make it much quicker to surf the web on your mobile phone.
Mobile phone insurance
Mobile phone insurance like other types of insurance can insure 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.
Mobile phone roaming
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 different to the rates charged when making calls at home.
EU regulations in effect since 15 June 2017 mean that mobile phone customers will be charged the domestic retail price for calls, texts and data when travelling in the European Economic Area (EEA). ComReg advises customers to check with their roaming service provider to confirm their data allowance before travelling.
You can read more information about mobile phone roaming on ComReg's website.
Brexit and mobile phone roaming
All mobile phone operators will be obliged to make you well aware of any roaming charges you could incur if you use your mobile device in the UK, after the UK exit the EU. However, operators will no longer be legally required to offer you roaming at no additional charge when you travel to the UK.
You should contact your provider directly if you have any concerns.
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. Since 1 July 2012, these measures also apply when roaming outside the EU.
Since 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.
Different service providers charge different rates for mobile service packages – it is 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 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
Where to apply