Mobile users switch on to savings as 1,000 a day change providers
MORE than 1,000 mobile phone customers a day are switching to different providers in a bid to get a better deal.
The record switching level comes as official figures show Irish mobile charges remain above the European average for most customers.
The Comreg Irish Communications Market report shows that changing providers in Ireland is at its highest ever, with a record 352,140 customers jumping ship last year to get a better deal.
The trend intensified in the final quarter of 2010 when more than 115,216 consumers switched mobile provider, more than 1,250 per day.
The quest for better value has paid off, however, with Irish customers now spending less on their phones now than they were a year ago -- at €34 per month on average compared to €37.
ComReg said this was likely down to reduced consumer spending, better mobile pricing plans and reductions in the number of dropped calls.
Comreg's Callcosts website allows consumers to compare the bewildering array of mobile tariffs.
An Irish Independent survey found the prepaid option cheapest overall for someone making 200 minutes of calls and sending 100 texts a month.
A customer on this usage level would get the best deal by using Tesco's prepaid Anyone Anytime Free €30 Top Up.
That level of calls and texts would cost them €19.83 a month. Tesco, however, allows mobile customers carry over unused credit from that €30 top up to subsequent months.
The next nine cheapest options on the list all involve bill-pay options, with tariffs from 3, Meteor and eMobile the lowest.
Customers can save up to €10 a month depending on what deal they choose.
However, despite the level of switching, mobile revenues actually increased by 3.9pc, to €440m, for the final quarter of last year.
Mobile phone companies continued to benefit from the seemingly unstoppable rise in phone ownership and increased internet use. There are now a staggering 4.7 million mobiles on the go nationwide, more than one for every man, woman and child in the country.
There are also another half a million mobile broadband subscriptions.
Some 64.4pc of Irish customers use prepay mobiles, but the rate varies -- from 100pc with Tesco Mobile, 83pc with Eircom Mobile, 66pc of Vodafone customers, 57pc with O2 and 29pc of 3 customers.
Prepay customers, who account for almost two-thirds of all mobile phone users in Ireland, still pay more than the European norm, a report from the telecommunications regulator Comreg reveals.
An OECD comparison for November 2010 shows Irish prepaid mobile costs are ninth highest out of 20 countries surveyed, 7pc more expensive than the European average, and nearly four times higher than cheapest Denmark.
However, Irish billpay customers -- around 36pc of the total here -- fare better coming in below the EU norm.
Consumers can compare costs based on their own mobile usage pattern at the Comreg site www.callcosts.ie.