The creation of home zones, whereby mobile operators allow their customers to make and receive calls on their phones at fixed-line prices in or near their homes, could boost competition in the marketplace, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) said today.
The regulator said that a number of Irish operators have expressed an interest in the offering and as a result it is opening up a consultation into providing the services.
It says that from the mobile operators’ perspective, the home zones are a fixed-mobile convergence offering that can help operators compete more effectively with fixed-line services.
For consumers, the offerings could mean increased flexibility and lower rates for outgoing calls.
ComReg reckons such services could be offered from the end of this year or early next year by one or more operators.
In Germany, mobile companies T-Mobile, Vodafone and O2 already offer this service and it has gone down well with consumers there.
A typical home zone service will provide a mobile customer with both fixed and mobile telephone numbers enabling their contacts to call them at regular fixed-line costs while they are within a certain defined area.
Mobile operators could also offer reduced rate calling to their home zone subscribers as long as calls are made within the home zone area.
Business customers could also be able to call each other free of charge within the home zone, adding another potential advantage to firms considering home working for their staff.
By John Kennedy