Durkan calls for all Ireland mobile phone tariff

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A new report into “crippling” roaming mobile phone charges shows the need for an all Ireland tariff, a Derry MLA has said.

The SDLP’s Mark H Durkan says people in border areas like Derry “are being crippled due to the excessive charges being placed on them by mobile phone providers, particularly due to the rise in Internet browsing.”

The latest Ofcom Communications Market Report published on Wednesday shows that roaming charges can cost mobile phone users an extra £300 per year.

Jonathan Rose, Ofcom’s Northern Ireland Director says the regulator intends to write to mobile phone operators in light of new EU regulations.

“While the European Commission has lowered the maximum roaming rates that operators can charge, our research shows that the problem of inadvertent roaming continues to be costly for tens of thousands of consumers in Northern Ireland.

“The latest European Roaming Regulation places a responsibility on mobile operators to take ‘reasonable steps’ to protect their customers from inadvertent roaming charges.

“We are writing to the operators to find out what actions they are planning to take to meet this new obligation.”

Mr Durkan says: “It is time for mobile phone companies to introduce a single all-island tariff.

“While people are advised to switch on their data roaming facility, the reality is that many people living in Derry don’t even realise that they are ‘roaming’ and have to do this as they haven’t actually crossed the border to Donegal.

“It is time for mobile phone companies to introduce a single all-island tariff, especially providers such as o2 who operate both North and South and incur no additional cost when customers’ signal switches over the border.

“It is worth noting that Europe has flexed its muscles before and has shown that it can make operators respond positively to requests for change on the issue of roaming charges.

“We are calling on them to use their influence again to put pressure on the big mobile phone companies in Ireland to introduce a single tariff to help people and businesses operating in border areas. People are finding it tough enough to survive in the present economic conditions without being scourged with this extra expenditure,” he says.

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