Monday 27 May 2019

Landline calls and SMS texts plummet in Ireland while mobile roaming fears disappear

Roaming on holiday
Roaming on holiday
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Landline calls have plummeted in Ireland in the last year, new figures from the telecoms regulator, Comreg, show.

Irish people are talking on their phones 10pc less than in 2017, with online and social media services such as WhatsApp and Apple’s FaceTime eating in to traditional phone habits.

There has been a similar collapse in traditional SMS text messages as people switch over to free messaging services from Facebook and Snapchat.

And phones are now outpacing computers by an even greater margin, with smartphone online data usage up by half in the last 12 months.

The figures also show that despite government efforts, over a quarter of Irish broadband connections are stuck on crawling speeds with at least 250,000 homes barely able to send an email.

The government hopes that its National Broadband Plan will change this over the next two years, although construction the plan has still not been finalised.

Overall, there has been no increase in the number of broadband subscriptions in Ireland over the last year, which still stands at 1.7m.

The figures show that Ireland’s digital divide is becoming more acute, with homes that have adequate broadband using their service 25pc more than a year ago.

Home broadband is now being relied on by ordinary Irish homes for television as well as education and work, with a recent survey showing 500,000 Irish homes signed up to the online video service Netflix.

Comreg’s new figures also reveal that Ireland is one of Europe’s more expensive countries for home broadband, with ongoing disputes between Eir and other operators over the cost of accessing Eir’s national network. Outside cities, Eir is the only major broadband infrastructure provider.

However, the figures also show that Ireland is one of the cheapest places in Europe to run a pay-as-you-go phone, at around half the price of many other EU countries.

What’s more, the statistics show we’re not afraid to use our phones when we roam anymore.

Thanks to the EU’s ban on some roaming fees, we’re using our mobiles to make and take calls 50pc more than a year ago, while our use of phone data services like Facebook abroad is up a staggering 256pc.

The roaming laws do not completely cover all data costs, however, with stiff penalties still in place for some ‘all you can eat’ phone subscribers who try to use lots of that data abroad.

Overall, the average Irish phone user now uses 5.4 gigabytes per month, with the amount almost doubling each year.

Meanwhile, there has been a boost for fibre broadband figures, which have tripled in the last year, albeit still at the low level of 50,000 subscriptions. The figures reflect new rollouts by Eir and Siro into regional towns around the country.

The fibre figures do not include Eir’s widespread ‘eFibre’ products, which are based on older copper telephone lines with limited speeds, many of which have to be scrapped according to the government.

Online Editors

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