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Is time up for Ireland’s speaking clock service?

Published 10/05/2010

“AT the signal, it will be 12.36 and four seconds. . . beep.”

Ireland’s speaking clock celebrates its 40th birthday this year. But the number of people calling and waiting for the beep has fallen more than 99%.

At its peak — obviously before digital watches — the service attracted close to three million calls a year.

“Our records show there have been approximately 2,036 calls to the clock in the last 12 months,” Eircom said last week.

The 1191 number is not the cash cow it used to be for Eircom. “There is a small demand for this service at present so it does not generate high levels of revenue.”

The 1191 speaking clock costs 20.6c for the first minute, which would indicate that Eircom makes about €420 (£365) a year from the once-mighty service.

In comparison, BT's 123 talking clock received 60 million calls last year.

A number of countries have phased out the speaking clock in recent years, with Norway canning its service in January 2007.

Despite the tiny amount of cash the speaking clock earns for its new Singapore-based parent company, STT has given it the dreaded vote of confidence.

“We have no current plans to cease this service,” according to Eircom.

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