An agreement by EU leaders to ban mobile phone roaming fees is good news for the North West, SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood has said.
The move means that phone users who currently face hefty and often unexpected bills due to cross-border roaming charges in the Donegal/ Derry area will pay no more for their calls and data regardless of which network they are on.
The cost of calls, texts and data while roaming within the EU will drop in 2016 and disappear completely in 2017 following the compromise agreement between Council of Europe members, the European Commission and European Parliament.
Mr Eastwood said the move would come as a great relief to many customers in Derry and Donegal who “are unfairly forced to pay above the odds” for mobile phone services.
He said: “In March the European Union governments put the plan to scrap charges by the end of this year on ice until at least mid-2018, causing dismay among mobile phone users in border areas.
“Roaming charges are unfair to consumers and the EU has finally recognised that fact in introducing long overdue legislation to abolish them.
Roaming charges are unfair to consumers and the EU has finally recognised that fact in introducing long overdue legislation to abolish them.Colum Eastwood
“People will be disappointed that the abolition is not happening sooner but it must be welcomed that agreement to scrap the tariffs has been reached.
“Customers in Derry, Donegal and other border areas continue to be charged shocking amounts of money due to inadvertent roaming caused when phones pick up signals from masts across the border.
“Many people in the border areas have had to put up with inflated phone bills for far too long simply because of where they live,” Mr Eastwood added.