Eir and 3 Ireland top list of most complained about phone firms
Eir and 3 Ireland have emerged as the most complained about phone and broadband companies in Ireland, according to new figures from telecoms watchdog Comreg.
Poor coverage issues, including dropped calls and a loss of service, drove thousands of people to contact the regulator in the last three months of 2015.
Comreg now receives 500 complaints per month and a further 1,000 queries related to mobile, landline and broadband services in the country.
Overall, Eir was the subject of the most customer complaints and queries. The landline and broadband operator, which is obliged by law to provide a fixed line to every home in the country, also had the highest number of complaints per capita. Eir has encountered difficulties in dealing with storm damage in recent winters.
The company with the next highest number of complaints and queries was 3 Ireland, with over a quarter of all issues relating to service coverage.
The mobile phone company has had a series of technical challenges in integrating 1.5m O2 customers into its own network following its takeover of the rival mobile network last year. However, despite its high volume of customer issues, 3 Ireland had a slightly lower per-capita rate of complaints than Meteor, the mobile arm of Eir.
Vodafone Mobile attracted the smallest number of complaints per capita, but its landline counterpart, Vodafone At Home, had the third highest number of complaints per capita with Comreg.
Virgin had the lowest number of complaints per customer, while Sky had the second highest number of queries raised with Comreg, despite its low overall volume of complaints.
The regulator did not release figures for rival 'virtual' mobile operators, Tesco Mobile, Lycamobile, Post Mobile, Virgin Mobile or iD, which represent almost 10pc of the Irish mobile market. All except Post Mobile operate off 3 Ireland's mobile network.
Some rural TDs say weak mobile phone coverage is a bigger issue among constituents than lack of broadband.
"There is a real problem with coverage in large areas of the country," Helen McEntee, a Fine Gael TD for Meath East, told an Oireachtas committee hearing on communications last week.
"I can't keep a call without it dropping on routes that I travel," she added.
Under Irish telecoms law, mobile operators are required to cover between 70pc and 80pc of the country's population, although there is no legal requirement to cover rural areas.
Mobile operators say they face planning objections from local communities, despite the growing outcry over coverage blackspots.
One in three applications for masts and other mobile network infrastructure are rejected by rural councils and An Bord Pleanála.
"There are places where people were able to use their phone in their homes five years ago and can't now," Jeremy Godfrey, chairman of Comreg, told an Oireachtas committee hearing on communications last week.