Planning a trip abroad? Irish phone users paying €20 more for roaming
Irish mobile phone customers are paying €20 per week more than other European consumers for making calls when abroad.
New figures from the telecoms regulator show that surcharges of up to 30c per minute are being applied to Irish customers when they try to phone home from countries such as the US or Australia.
Someone making a 10-minute call home from New York has to pay almost €3 more than a European counterpart. Over a week, that adds up to about €20 on average.
According to ComReg's research, the average surcharge applied by Irish operators is 98c per minute compared with just 69c per minute across the EU.
While the figures apply to calls made outside the EU, even calls made within the EU result in higher charges for Irish users over European counterparts.
On average, Irish phone users pay a 7.6pc surcharge on calls made when travelling in Europe compared with an average of 5.5pc extra for other EU citizens, according to ComReg's findings. This occurs despite the imminent abolition of roaming charges across the EU.
A spokeswoman for Ireland's biggest mobile operator, Vodafone, said that competition would "drive good value" for Irish phone users.
"Roaming charges that Irish consumers pay when using their mobile phones outside the EU are a function of the commercial agreements in place between operators here and their counterparts in the countries in question.
"This has to be seen in the context that Ireland is one of the cheapest countries in Europe for mobile users, as was pointed out in ComReg's most recent quarterly report."
The head of the Irish Telecoms and Internet Federation (Tif), which lobbies on behalf of Irish operators, also defended the higher roaming costs for calls.
However, ComReg's figures also show Irish customers pay less per megabyte (3c) of data than the EU average price (5c).
The figures also show that the surcharge on calls made within the EU is shrinking.
Nevertheless, operators continue to apply extra costs on calls as they struggle to find ways to make up for lost roaming revenue within the EU.
From June 15 this year, most roaming charges associated with calls, texts and data browsing are being abolished across the EU.
Phones can be used as normal across the continent with no surcharges, unless the phone exceeds the limits set domestically by its monthly plan.