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New rules help phone customers to switch providers

NEW rules from Europe, which come into force today, will force phone companies to change your mobile phone or landline provider in just one day while allowing you to keep your old number.

While the regulations take effect from this morning, the Department of Communications admitted yesterday that regulations here in Ireland are still being "finalised".

The changes are part of a raft of European measures designed to make it easier and cheaper to use phones across the EU.

Other changes include compensation for phone users who sign up to a service that fails to deliver pre-agreed minimum standards and clearer descriptions of what is on offer.

While consumers have been able to move their existing telephone number to a new service provider for years, operators have to ensure that this will be done within one working day for the first time.

It takes an average of four days for customers across Europe to move their mobile number to a new provider and seven days to move their number of a new landline service.

Eircom said it takes nine days here to move a landline number but mobile numbers are moved in just a couple of hours.

The company said yesterday that it's ready to implement the new provisions.

The Department of Communications said "Ireland will be amongst the first EU member states to complete the process" but did not say when legislation will be enacted. A third of the 27 EU member states will have the new regulations in place by today.

Other rules due to come into force will give clearer information to people buying anything from basic telephone services to broadband internet.

The European Commission singled out internet service providers for comment, saying that operators will have to give their customers information about the way in which the internet connection is managed. They will also have to explain how that could impact the quality of the service received by the end user.

Irish Independent