HomeBussinessCollapse in the number of texts and calls from Irish phones

Collapse in the number of texts and calls from Irish phones

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WhatsApp and iMessage are likely to carry the majority of messages sent, according to latest telecoms figures

Texts between phones fell by 34pc in the last year, while calls fell by 12pc.

However, mobile and smartphone subscriptions continued to rise, with 3pc more users compared with the same time last year.

The figures suggest that Meta-owned WhatsApp and Apple-owned iMessage may now control the majority of Irish text messaging and a growing percentage of voice calls in the country.

Irish telecoms networks are licensed and regulated differently from internet tech giants, with companies such as Vodafone, Three and Eir traditionally facing more conditions to their voice and messaging services.

However, that is currently changing, with a raft of EU rules and laws – including the Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act – placing more onerous responsibilities on “over-the-top” operations such as Meta-owned WhatsApp.

The Irish telecoms regulator also reported that takeup of fibre broadband is 44pc, significantly above telecoms industry projections of 35pc.

Critics of the National Broadband Plan had predicted a lack of demand for high-speed fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband.

However, the regulator’s latest report says there are now 712,616 high-speed FTTP lines installed, 43pc of all fixed broadband connections.

“FTTP is the most purchased broadband technology in Ireland,” ComReg said, in a note.

Two-thirds of the country now have access to fibre broadband, it added, with three-quarters having access to fibre or cable.

FTTP is the most purchased broadband technology in Ireland

Meanwhile, Vodafone says it is about to switch off its 3G signal in Dublin, Cork and Galway. The country’s largest mobile operator says that some older phones will not fully work any more. The move is also set to affect some customers of Clear Mobile and An Post Mobile, both of which use Vodafone’s mobile network.

Commenting on the switch-off, ComReg has warned that several mobile-connected devices may not work any more, as they are dependent on the 3G signal.

This could include some security alarms, retail point-of-sale machines, heating systems and e-readers.

It could also affect some cars. Tesla has told its Irish customers that some of its older Model S vehicles will lose features such as roadside assistance to unlock the car remotely, navigation, maps and Supercharger availability over the mobile data network.

It has advised that these vehicle owners will need to spend at least €163 for installation of a new 4G modem in their cars.

Vodafone has already switched off the 3G network in Limerick. It says that it is ditching the 3G signals to help redirect capacity to its 4G and 5G networks.

Vodafone claims to have 99pc population coverage for its 4G network, but this has not been fully independently tested. A coverage map published by ComReg claims that large chunks of the country remain with weak or no coverage by Vodafone’s 4G or 5G signal.

Under Irish law, mobile operators are not required to have 100pc coverage across the country, with licensing conditions typically requiring between 70pc and 90pc of population coverage.

Vodafone says customers in areas without a 4G or 5G signal may still be able to make phone calls using its older 2G network. However, they will not be able to use their phones for data services, such as WhatsApp, Facebook or Maps.

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