Mobile phone costs up to 42pc dearer than EU's average
Published 24/03/2014 | 02:30
Ireland is up to 42pc more expensive for mobile phone services than other countries.
Prepay customers – the majority of Irish mobile users – pay 30pc more than the average in a survey of 21 European countries, an OECD survey shows.
Some 57pc of Irish mobile phones involve prepay subscriptions where the user pays to top up credit in advance rather than getting a bill later.
Ireland is the sixth most expensive country for prepay phones, with a customer who makes 40 calls a month paying over €16 a month.
And low-level mobile users on billpay contracts pay 42pc more than the average across Europe, the OECD survey shows.
The results are published in Comreg's latest Irish Communications Market Key Data Report for the last quarter of 2013.
Irish billpay customers making 30 mobile calls a month face the fourth highest charges in Europe at around €17 per month, which is nearly twice as high as in Britain.
However, Ireland is cheaper than most countries if you're a medium or heavy user of your mobile phone.
For those making 100 calls a month, the costs are 12.4pc cheaper than average, at around €18 per month.
And for frequent callers making 300 calls a month, Irish prices are 55pc cheaper than average, and the seventh cheapest overall, at just under €20.
The OECD uses the cheapest packages from the biggest operators in each country for its survey, which is primarily focused on voice costs – although cheaper deals could be available from other providers.
The packages used in Ireland were Vodafone Advantage Plus for prepay customers and O2's Open Online 24-month package for the billpay market.
Asked why its prepay charges were 30pc above the European average in the survey, Vodafone said that Irish usage of mobile voice and texts was significantly above the EU average "because of the value we offer".
The majority of subscribers got unlimited calls and texts to Vodafone numbers and a free data allowance for €20 a month, it said.
Comreg figures show Irish consumers are shopping around for better deals and have managed to cut their mobile bills significantly in the `past year.
The average Irish consumer spends €26.50 per month for mobile services – nearly €4 less than two years earlier.
Prepay customers typically paid €16.50 per month at the end of 2013, which is 14pc lower than a year earlier, while billpay customers paid €40.67 per month, down 8pc.
Comreg said the drop in mobile revenue was likely to reflect weak economic conditions in Ireland, lower-priced mobile plans, increased sales of bundled packages including fixed calls or broadband, and reductions in roaming rates.
There has also been a huge shift away from texting and a massive increase in data use, with the shift to internet messaging services such as Whats-app partly accounting for this.
Close to 40,000 customers a month – some 1,275 every day – switch mobile phone providers, the report shows.
In the final three months of 2013, some 117,307 consumers in Ireland switched to a different company but kept their number.