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Communication

Fixed line telephone services in Ireland

Many companies in Ireland offer fixed line telephone services to consumers. Fixed line means that your telephone is not wire free but physically connected to a point on a wall in your home or office. The type of fixed line service you choose will depend on your needs.

Universal Service Obligation (USO)

Before the telecommunications market was liberalised in the late 1990s, all telecommunications services in Ireland were provided by State company Telecom Éireann. Telecom Éireann was privatised in 1999 and is now known as Eircom.

ComReg, the regulator for the electronic communications and postal sectors, has put in place a system to ensure that a basic set of telecommunications services is available to all consumers throughout the country. This is known as the principle of Universal Service. Eircom is the designated Universal Service Provider (USP) and has a number of obligations regarding the supply of certain services.

Rules
Choosing or changing your service provider

Your relationship with a telephone service provider is based on a consumer contract. It is important to compare the different terms and conditions which apply in different contracts. These may include, for example, prices for line rental and calls. Before you change contracts, it is wise to know the specific terms and conditions of your current contract so that you can compare them to the terms and conditions of a new contract.

You should also review a few of your most recent telephone bills and establish your calling pattern (i.e. what type of calls you frequently make and at what time of day), and then shop around and ask the different companies about their call charges. You should ask each operator to provide you with a printed price list in order to check and compare tariffs.

The following questions will also assist you in making your decision:

  • Is there a minimum charge or a set up charge for each call you make?
  • How does the phone company charge for calls – per second or per minute?
  • Are there any additional charges such as connection fees?
  • What are their day, evening and weekend times?
  • How long is the change over likely to take?
  • Do you need to sign up for a set period of time?
  • Do you have to spend a minimum amount per month?
  • Are there any special discount schemes?
  • What penalties will be applied if you decide to opt-out of your contract obligations early?

It is also important to note that you may need to contact your existing operator in advance of changing service provider to check to see if any cancellation notice or cancellation period/penalties apply.

The process of changing service providers should take no longer than a few weeks to complete from the day that you indicate to your new service provider that you would like to use their services. All you need to do is either sign a contract or indicate over the telephone that you would like to subscribe to a new service provider. The process of giving your consent to a service provider by phone is known as Third Party Verification (TPV for short) and involves a series of questions that you need to answer. The TPV is recorded and is as legally binding as signing a contract.

The new service provider will contact your old service provider to let them know that you will no longer need their services. Your old service provider will then write a letter to you stating that you have consented to changing service providers. You only need to reply to this letter if you do not wish to change your service provider.

Cooling off period

The cooling off period is when a consumer may legally withdraw from a contract without incurring a penalty. If you have given your consent to a service provider, this cooling off period is seven working days from the date you receive the terms and conditions of the contract.

Direct marketing and telephone service providers

Telephone service providers often circulate material advertising their services. If you do not wish to receive direct marketing calls from any company you can register this preference with the National Directory Database.

After you have changed service providers your old service provider cannot contact you in relation to your service for three months.

Equipment rental

Many consumers rent phones from their service provider for a fee.  An increasing number of consumers are however purchasing their own telephones. If you decide to buy a telephone, you should contact the service provider who supplied you with your original phone, and ask what steps you should take to return the unit in order to remove the equipment rental charge from your bill.

You should not need to change equipment when you change your service provider.

Single billing

Consumers now have the option of choosing single billing which means that you receive just one bill from the service provider of your choice for every aspect of your telephone service requirements – including all calls and line rental. You will have to check that your chosen service provider does offer the single billing facillity.

For auxiliary services, such as call waiting or call answering etc., you will need to contact your new operator to ask if these are available. Your internet settings and broadband services should not be affected if you select a new service provider for line rental and calls. Your new service provider will provide you with further details.

Carrier pre-selection

Carrier Pre-Selection (CPS) allows you to opt in advance for certain types of calls, such as international calls, to be carried by a particular operator. There is no need to dial a prefix or follow any different procedure prior to connecting the call. You receive two separate bills – one from your CPS operator for call charges and one from your line rental provider.

Rates

Different service providers charge different rates depending on the type of call you are making and when you make the call. It’s up to you to research the different rates to see where you can get best value for money based on your calling pattern and services you want to use.

If you are aged 70 or over, or you are receiving a social welfare payment, you may be eligble for a Telephone Allowance from the Department of Social and Family Affairs through its House Hold Benefits Package.

Useful Contact
Commission for Communications Regulations

Consumer Line

Block DEF, Abbey Court
Irish Life Centre
Lower Abbey Street
Dublin 1
Ireland
Tel: +353(0)1 804 9600
LoCall: 1890 229 668
Fax: +353 1 804 9671
Web: www.askcomreg.ie
Email: consumerline@comreg.ie

Mobile Telephone Networks in Ireland

According to ComReg’s most recent market report, Ireland has a mobile penetration rate of 96%. The EU average is 98%. There are also many different brands of mobile phone handset. The choice for consumers of mobile phone and other mobile services has never been so great. This document explains some of the services provided by telephone service providers and your rights when accessing these services.

There are a total of four mobile telephone networks in Ireland. Each mobile telephone network is operated by a different provider. In order for a mobile telephone service provider to gain access to the market, they must be licensed by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).

Each of the four different mobile telephone service providers offers different packages to consumers. ComReg has developed a website called www.callcosts.ie which allows consumers to compare mobile phone charges across all operators. The site assists consumers to select the optimum mobile phone package, based on their individual usage.

If you buy a mobile phone you have a contract with the mobile phone service provider. The type of contract depends on whether you choose a Pre-pay or Post-pay mobile telephone service.

  • Pre-pay services means that you pay as you go and you buy credit on your phone from various outlets such as shops, bank machines and over the phone.
  • Post pay service means that you receive a bill for all the calls that you make.

Within these two different types of contract there are also many variations. Ask yourself

  • when you expect to make most of your calls (at peak or off peak times)
  • whether you will use SMS (short messaging service or text messaging) more than voice calls
  • what service providers the people who you are likely to be calling are using

The answers to these questions will inform you as to the right package for you.

Peak and Off-peak rates

Peak times are normally during the day when most people and businesses are making calls. Generally calls cost more during “Peak” times. “Off peak” rates are normally in the evenings, night and at weekends. Calls can cost a lot less during these periods. Make sure you know the times and rates for “peak” and “off peak” as these may change with different mobile phone call packages.

Rules

Remember that the mobile phone handset that you buy is protected under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, 1980. This means that any mobile telephone handset or other telecommunications item you buy should be

  • As described – on the marketing material or by the sales person
  • Fit for its purpose (i.e. suitable for using as a mobile telephone handset)
  • Of merchantable quality (i.e. fit to be sold and used by a customer)

If the handset or other piece of mobile equipment that you buy from a mobile phone service provider or other retailer becomes faulty you can return it and you can get a repair replacement or a refund. The legislation does not specify what kind of redress the retailer has to give you but you should expect that it will be reasonable. If you have exhausted the complaints mechanism of the mobile phone service provider and you are still dissatisfied you can take your claim to the Small Claims Court.

3G Services

The term 3G is a term for “Third Generation Mobile Telephone Technology”. Third generation mobile systems provide high-speed data transmissions and higher supporting multimedia applications such as full-motion video, video conferencing and Internet.

Mobile phone insurance

Mobile phone insurance like other types of insurance, insures the handset against loss, theft, etc. . Many mobile insurance policies offer to protect your mobile in specific situations, such as accidental damage, from theft, loss, water damage, accidental damage and more. Often when you purchase a mobile telephone, you may be asked whether you require mobile phone insurance. Check the initial amount that you need to pay before the insurance company will pay for any loss or damage to insured items. This initial amount you must pay , is called the excess. If you have home and contents insurance for your home the theft of your mobile phone may be covered by that insurance – you can check this with your insurance company. Specific mobile phone insurance may cover other items such as calls made by unscrupulous people.

Mobile phone roaming

When you purchase a bill pay mobile telephone in Ireland, you sign a contract for a service that allows you use a combination of services such as phone calls, text and picture messaging etc,.. All consumers should be fully aware of what their contract terms and conditions. If your service provider allows you to use your mobile phone when you travel you can be charged ‘roaming rates’. Roaming’ is the ability to use your mobile phone while abroad. You should be aware that the charges for using your phone when roaming are are different to the rates charged when making calls at home.

Since 30 August 2007 a price limit called a Eurotariff places a cap on the price you can be charged for using your mobile phone while travelling in the EU.

If your phone is stolen

Every handset sold has a unique number called an IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identification) number. Record this information and register it with your mobile phone service provider when you buy the handset. If your phone is stolen report the theft immediately to the Gardaí and your mobile phone service provider who can then ensure that the phone is made unusable on all networks. Contact your mobile phone service provider for further information on this scheme. The Irish Cellular Industry Association has more information on mobile phone theft on their website.

Children and Mobile phones

Many children in Ireland and abroad use mobile phones. Modern mobile phones are means by which the internet can be accessed and can be used to transmit video and other images which may or may not be appropriate for children. The Irish Cellular Industry Association has published “A parent’s guide to mobile phones” which explains good practice with regard to mobile phone use for children. The Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland in association with the Internet Advisory Board have set up a website www.hotline.ie where you can report instances of child pornography that you may come across.

Rates

Different service providers charge different rates for mobile service packages – it’s up to you to research the different rates and to see where you can get best value for money for the services that you use.

If you are aged 70 or over, or you are receiving a social welfare payment, you may be eligble for a Telephone Allowance from the Department of Social and Family Affairs through its House Hold Benefits Package.

If you have a problem with your mobile phone handset and you fail to get satisfaction from the retailer where you bought your mobile phone you can go to the Small Claims Court.

Where To Apply

Commission for Communications Regulations

ConsumerLine
Block DEF, Abbey Court
Irish Life Centre
Lower Abbey Street
Dublin 1
Ireland
Tel: +353 (0)1 804 9600
Local: 1890 229 668
Fax: +353 1 804 9671
Web: www.askcomreg.ie
Email: consumerline@comreg.ie

National Consumer Agency

4 Harcourt Road
Dublin 2
Ireland
Lines open Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm
Locall: 1890 432 432
Tel: +353 (0)1 402 5501
Web: www.consumerconnect.ie

Communication

Fixed line telephone services in Ireland

Telecommunication services in Ireland are regulated by ComReg. Find out here how to choose your fixed line telephone service provider.

Mobile Telephone Networks in Ireland

The choice for consumers of mobile phone and other mobile services in Ireland has never been so great. This document explains some of the services provided by telephone service providers and your rights when accessing these services.

Connecting to the Internet from your home

More and more Irish homes now access the internet. This document gives advice on choosing your internet service provider.

Regulation of premium rate telephone services

Premium rate telephone services in Ireland are regulated. Find out how the rights of citizens are protected, regardless of whether these services originate in or are provided in Ireland or abroad.

Dealing with unsolicited direct marketing

The law in Ireland sets down rights for individuals who would prefer not to receive junk mail. Find out about the Mailing Preference Service, and your rights.

Dealing with unwanted telephone sales calls

Cold calling’ means that you receive unwanted sales calls in your home from companies that you have not had any dealings with until that time. Find out how to register your preference not to receive ‘cold calls’ using the National Directory Database.

Dealing with unsolicited or offensive e-mail

One of the most common problems affecting people with e-mail accounts is unsolicited commercial e-mail, also known as SPAM. This document explains the law in Ireland and the EU regarding your rights when dealing with unsolicited or offensive e-mails.

Making a complaint about telecommunications or postal services

ComReg deals with unresolved complaints about telecommunications or postal services. Find out how and when to make a complaint.

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