Phone calls for the troops

16 Dec 2004

Irish soldiers serving the UN in peacekeeping duties in such far-flung locations as Liberia and Kosovo will be able to make free phone calls home as well as affordable calls during ‘welfare time’ thanks to the signing of a new three-year deal between the Defence Forces and Dome Telecom.

Under the deal, each Irish soldier will be given a free phone card allowing them to call home, irrespective of where they are based in the world.

Dome Telecom, which also provides phone cards under the brands Century 2000, Pulse, Global Caller and Century World, has designed a satellite-based service specifically for the Defence Forces.

Its phone cards, which are distributed to all Irish soldiers serving abroad, offer significant cost savings over traditional phone charges. A 30-minute call to Ireland from Liberia, for example, works out more than 95pc cheaper with a Dome Telecom card as compared to the usual €50-plus rate for a 30-minute call using a traditional landline. There are currently more than 700 Irish soldiers engaged in peacekeeping operations around the world.

Commenting on the deal, Dome Telecom’s managing director Dara O’Mahony said: “Four years ago we identified the need for soldiers serving on UN peacekeeping duties to be able to call home at an affordable rate. We worked closely with the Irish Defence Forces Signals Division to incorporate a call card-based service with the existing signalling network and to introduce a new satellite-based communications system through which Dome could offer this service to soldiers serving on overseas duties.

“In 2001 we won the tender for these services ahead of Eircom and Esat BT, the existing provider, which were unable to provide a comparable service. This second contract is a testament to our ability to provide the highest quality communications services yet still offer amazingly low prices.”

O’Mahony continued: “All our call card-based products and services have one simple premise in common — they are prepaid and they target the ‘non-geographic’ customer. No other Irish company specialises in this market. The non-geographic customer is simply defined as those who are neither at home nor in their office.

“Such customers include Irish soldiers on UN duties, students living away from home, patients in hospitals and non-nationals living in Ireland who do not have their own landline. Dome Telecom has developed specific products and services to provide each of these groups with cost-saving alternatives to the prohibitive costs of using mobile phones,” O’Mahony said.

By John Kennedy