Written answers

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

Telecommunications Services

Cormac Devlin (Dún Laoghaire, Fianna Fail)
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804. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the measures he has taken to ensure the providers of home telephone, mobile and broadband services are providing adequate customer service to vulnerable members of society; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11638/20]

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin Bay North, Fine Gael)
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Telecommunications service providers are regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), which operates independently of my Department.  The telecommunications regulatory framework, which ComReg implements, requires each telecommunications services provider to establish and operate a code of practice, including requirements for complaint handling.  Service Providers must implement these measures, at a minimum, to assist consumers (including businesses) when they need to contact them with a complaint. A copy of the code of practice, which includes the three ways in which consumers can contact service providers, can be accessed at

Any operator failing to comply with any of these requirements is a matter to be pursued by ComReg.

I recognise how vital telecommunications services are to citizens for so many aspects of their daily lives, including for working and studying from home. Officials from my Department have been engaging intensively with ComReg and with the telecommunications industry in this regard.

As the Deputy may be aware, on 15 April 2020, I announced that all major telecommunications providers have committed to a number of measures to help people stay in touch and work from home during Covid-19, including:

1. Any fixed broadband customers who do not have unlimited usage already as standard will  be given the opportunity, if they require, to upgrade their package (which may be on a temporary basis), with their current service provider;

2. Any customer who does not have fixed broadband and who relies solely on mobile access to the Internet will have the opportunity to avail of affordable unlimited mobile data access/package from their service provider;

3. Fair usage policies will not be automatically applied to unlimited fixed and mobile data packages;

4. Service providers may implement appropriate permitted traffic management measures to avoid network congestion;

5. Access to healthcare and educational resource websites identified by the Government will be zero-rated for all customers where technically feasible;

6. So that customers can remain connected during the crisis, service providers will engage with any customer that contacts them who is in financial difficulty as a result of Covid-19 and has difficulty paying their bills to agree the best way of keeping them connected to voice and data;

7. Service Providers will work with ComReg in the event of complaints raised to ComReg by consumers, who consider they are not being treated in accordance with these commitments.

The commitments will remain available to consumers until 30 June 2020 and will be reviewed in advance of that date, if needed.

As mentioned above, Service Providers have committed to working with ComReg in the event of complaints raised to ComReg by consumers, who consider they are not being treated in accordance with Covid-19 commitments.

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