A NEW low cost mobile phone service has attracted over 20,000 subscribers in the first few months of operation by offering savings of up to 86pc on the cost of peak-rate pre-paid mobile phone calls.
Budget Telecom utilises a free phone number and premium rate lines to allow customers build up credit and make low cost mobile calls.
Subscribers first register an account with Budget Telecom simply by ringing the free phone number, they then build up credit on their account by ringing a premium rate line from a conventional phone.
After that, they can make calls utilising the free phone number. Savings vary from 50pc for mobile calls at peak rate times in Ireland to 86pc for some international calls.
Budget Telecom is owned by its three founder directors, Marcus Brennan his brother Richard and Tadhg O'Toole. According to Marcus, the company was started four years ago in a bedroom in his mother's house with £3,000 each in borrowings. ``We spent the first few years developing software, building network and getting all of the regulatory licences etc into place, but all paid for by smaller telecommunications projects as we went along.
``Our mobile product only started trial a few months ago and now we're the largest competitor in Ireland to Esat and Eircell and we haven't even officially launched yet.''
Budget Telecom gave out the freephone number on a trial basis to about 500 people a few months ago.
Since then the numbers registering has mushroomed with the result that they have trebled their capacity and are now launching the service properly.
The aim is to have about 100,000 subscribers by Christmas.
Mr Brennan believes that they have already had a dramatic impact on the market, and claims credit for the @@STYL xleg recent reductions in pre-paid rates announced by both Eircell and Esat.
``The recent price reductions announced by Esat and then Eircell are as a direct response to the inroads Budget Telecom has made into their respective businesses and not due to the confirmation of the third mobile licence going to Meteor,'' he says.
``They (Esat and Eircell) can see the growth in traffic to our 1800 number on a daily basis just by looking at call statistics on their networks.''
However, a spokeswoman for Esat Digifone said the company had never heard of Budget Telecom and that it did not impact on its pricing structure.
Budget uses its own fully Irish in-house developed call handling software to automate the service so that no human interaction is needed to register or make calls.
``This makes Budget Telecom the most efficient telecommunications company in Ireland and allows us to pass on great savings,'' added Mr Brennan.