Saturday 3 December 2016

It's official: Irish businesses pay too much for mobiles

Published 15/03/2016 | 02:30

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Business mobile users in Ireland are paying more than twice what UK customers on the same networks pay, new figures from the country's telecoms regulator show.

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According to Comreg, the average mobile contract account taken by Irish business users costs €38.33 per month, 33pc more expensive than the average European business mobile contract and over twice the €18.23 per month borne by UK customers using the same networks in Britain.

The figure indicates that Irish business users are not aware of cheaper deals available and are overpaying for their mobile phone services.

By comparison, consumer mobile deals in Ireland are among the cheapest in Europe. According to Comreg's figures, Ireland is now the least expensive EU country to operate a prepaid account and the third cheapest for a consumer postpaid subscription. An average prepaid account in Ireland now costs €7.86 per month, according to the regulator, 44pc cheaper than the European norm. Similarly, an average consumer postpaid contract with an Irish operator now stands at €15.93 per month, 31pc cheaper than the EU norm.

The disparity between business and consumer mobile bills may cause financial controllers to look twice at the monthly bills they are paying.

Overall, mobile bills in Ireland are still coming down. The average revenue per user (Arpu) earned by mobile operators in Ireland fell from €25 per month last year to €24.62 per month at the end of 2015, according to the new Comreg figures.

The Arpu drop is being attributed to an increase in cheaper 'bundle' deals and an easing of roaming charges ahead of their abolition in June 2017. Last week, Eir Mobile introduced 1GB of free roaming within the EU for 40,000 of its customers.

The Comreg figures also show that the number of text messages sent in Ireland was down 15pc year on year, while the the number of multimedia phone messages was down 6.4pc. Irish people are gradually replacing their SMS and MMS communications with free messaging apps such as Whatsapp, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger.

Despite the slide in Arpu and move away from chargeable SMS and MMS messages, the Comreg figures show that mobile retail revenues rose 2pc to €401m over the last 12 months.

The figures also showed that movement in the mobile market has resulted in the overall number of broadband subscriptions falling for the first time in Ireland. Despite broadband providers building out new and upgraded networks, the total number of broadband subscriptions fell by 0.04pc in the last 12 months. In the last three months, it was down 0.2pc. The fall is accentuated by the continuing drop in 'dongle' based mobile broadband subscriptions. This figure is down 11.4pc as people switch to larger phones and use the 'personal hotspot' feature on their own personal handsets to connect laptops and tablets.

The Comreg figures also show that subscriptions to mobile packages with 3G or 4G data rose by 23pc in the same period. Overall, 27pc of mobile subscriptions in Ireland are now on 4G connections with top speeds of 30Mbs.

Meanwhile, the number of fixed wireless broadband subscriptions in Ireland continues to plummet, down 10.3pc compared the same time last year. Just 43,000 fixed wireless subscriptions, mainly in rural locations, remain as faster fixed line broadband is rolled out around the country.

Irish Independent

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