THE number of text messages being sent has collapsed by 22pc as people take advantage of free phone apps to keep in touch.
Free smartphone apps such as Snapchat, Whatsapp and Facebook are being blamed for killing off the traditional texting format, which still costs up to 45 cent per message sent with Irish operators.
The texting slump in the past 12 months is hitting operator revenues hard, with monthly mobile bills falling from €29.40 last year to €27.40 over the last 12 months, according to the telecoms regulator, Comreg. A drop in EU mobile roaming fees is also denting Irish telco coffers.
Despite the fall in texting costs, the Comreg figures show that Ireland remains the sixth most expensive country for prepaid mobile phone services. Irish consumers pay 30pc more than the EU average and over three times what phone users in Denmark pay. Postpaid contract mobile consumers, however, pay only marginally above the EU average.
Meanwhile, Ireland remains the fifth most expensive country for home broadband services with consumers here paying 25pc more than the EU average for home broadband and over five times the cheapest EU rates.
The high price of Irish pre-paid phone services has contributed to a sharp rise in the number of people opting for postpaid mobile phone contracts in Ireland, according to the Comreg figures. This is due to the increased popularity of high-end, expensive smartphones such as Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy S4 devices, which are unaffordable on prepay plans. An iPhone 5 on prepay costs over €600 upfront – but as little as €40 per month on a two-year contract plan.
Meanwhile, computer games consoles are starting to go out of fashion in Irish homes, with ownership falling by over 10pc in the last three years. Irish children are increasingly asking for smartphones and tablets to play games on over PlayStations and Xboxes.
Comreg's figures also show that Irish broadband speeds are rising quickly, with over a third of Irish users subscribing to packages with at least 10 megabits-per-second (Mbs) and almost 30pc getting over 30Mbs.
Telephone landline use has fallen here by almost 10pc in the last year, according to the telecoms regulator. However, the Comreg figures show that there are still over 10,000 dial-up internet connections in Ireland, a fall of 41pc on last year.