Dáil Éireann - Volume 468 - 03 July, 1996
Written Answers. - Telecommunications Costs.
Mr. J. Walsh Mr. J. Walsh
 220. Mr. J. Walsh asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the assessments, if any, his Department has undertaken in respect of the high telecommunication costs in the western counties compared with the general Dublin area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14531/96]
Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Lowry) Michael Lowry
Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Lowry): Consideration has been give from time to time on an ad hoc basis to various suggestions about telecommunications prices in rural areas, but this is not regarded as formal assessment in the context of this question.
The cost of providing a telecommunications service and the charges to customers for availing of that service is, in the first instance, a matter for the board of Telecom Éireann and as Minister I cannot interfere in such matters. My only involvement is in relation to proposals for price increases.
I have, however, brought the content of the Deputy's question to the attention of Telecom Éireann management and the company informs me that in all respects telecommunications prices to consumers are in fact equal throughout the country. Connection charges, line and equipment rental fees, call charges for local, trunk and international calls are the same for all customers regardless of their location.
The cost to Telecom Éireann of providing that service is not uniform throughout the State. Providing a telephone service to the western counties involves a higher real cost to the company than providing the equivalent service in Dublin due to the greater distances involved, a more dispersed population and a mountainous terrain.  Despite this, a standard price is applied by Telecom Éireann for telephone installation and tariffs throughout the country, the overall cost of which is not fully recouped by the company in revenue.
I accept, however, that Dublin customers are at a certain advantage, compared to customers in the west of Ireland, to the extent that they have a higher number of telephones available to them at the local call rate. This situation of course obtains in all major urban centres.
Telecom Éireann are endeavouring to address the needs of customers outside the 01 area in that regard with an ongoing policy of price reductions and adjustment of local call areas. Customers outside the 01 area have benefited substantially from price reductions in recent years. For instance, a peak time call from Cork to Dublin cost 34p a minute (excluding VAT) in 1992. The same call now costs 18p (excluding VAT). Local call areas in many parts of the country were expanded in 1992 and again at the beginning of this year, allowing access for customers in rural areas to a greater number of telephones for the price of a local call.
Dáil Éireann 468 Written Answers. Telecommunications Costs.