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Irish pre-paid mobiles cost 42pc more

IRISH consumers are paying an eye-watering 42pc more for pre-paid mobile calls than the European average.

A study by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found that pre-paid mobile charges here are near the top of the pricing league.

The cost of a selection of calls was more than four times higher than in Denmark and nearly twice as dear as the UK.

Pre-paid mobiles still dominate the Irish market. Three out of five Irish consumers top up their mobile phone credit rather than paying by bill.

The study bases its findings on packages which are judged to be representative of the typical value for money in the national mobile phone market. In Ireland's case, O2 figures were used.

It found Irish pre-paid prices were the fourth highest out of 21 countries for a mobile package including 40 calls.

The cost in Ireland was more than €20 compared to an OECD average of €14. The price was just €5 in Denmark which has a similar-sized market as here.

Asked why their pre-paid price was so much higher than in other countries, O2 said they were competitive in the Irish marketplace and included free calls to O2 numbers if you topped up by €20 a month.

Favourably

"O2's bill-pay packages analysed in the same report are also cheaper than the OECD average," the company said.

"The study itself acknowledges that the O2 Choices 300 package is 44.3pc cheaper than the benchmarked average."

The OECD survey shows that when it comes to bill-pay mobile charges, prices here compare favourably with many other countries.

For "low" mobile users making just 30 calls a month, the average bill is around €13, which is 5.7pc cheaper than average.

For "medium" mobile users making 100 calls a month, Ireland is sixth cheapest at around €14, which is 44pc less than average.

For a "high" user making 300 calls, Ireland is middle of the range on price, coming in at around €31 per month, or 18.7pc below the OECD average. The packages used for these surveys were also with O2.

The OECD figures are published in Comreg's latest report for the second quarter of 2012.

Around 39pc of Irish customers use bill-pay mobiles, and this has risen significantly in the past few years, driven by the greater take-up of smartphones.

Companies have been keen to lock customers into lengthy contracts in return for free or discounted smartphones.

The Comreg report also shows that Irish people are talking slightly more on the phone but texting less.

The average Irish person spends 255 minutes a month on the phone, but despite using the internet more on them, they're spending less than they used to at €29 per month.

More than 30,000 people a month continue to switch mobile phone providers.

The OECD survey is carried out for them by technology consultants Teligen, based on a methodology agreed with national authorities.

Irish Independent