The scourge of mobile roaming charges, which will be abolished in all European Union member states at midnight, could make a costly return for Derry phone users in less than two years if Brexit proceeds as planned.
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson warned the benefits of the abolition of charges, which kick in on Thursday morning, could be lost as a result of “the Tory Brexit agenda”. Two years ago the European Commission announced data roaming charges would end this summer. However, with the United Kingdom planning to leave the EU by March 2019, these savings may be short-lived as far as Derry is concerned.
Ms. Anderson said: “For many years we have campaigned against unfair mobile phone roaming charges at the European Parliament.
“This week roaming charges are set to end throughout the EU but customers in the north may not benefit from this if we are dragged out of the EU against our will as a result of the Tory Brexit agenda. This is something that has been won for local customers at the European Parliament but the benefits may be short lived as a result of Brexit.
“Not only will this mean the possible return of roaming charges for customers, but it will also hit small businesses in border areas who depend on mobile phones for their business. This is yet another example of the disastrous impact Brexit will have on our communities and highlights the need for the north to secure designated special status within the EU.”
The abolition of charges followed the announcement by the European Commission of its plans for a telecoms single market back in 2013.
The Commission had previously worked to decrease roaming charges within the EU on gradual basis.
Prices for roaming calls, SMS and data, for example, fell by 80 per cent between 2007 and 2015.
From Thursday consumers will pay the same price for calls, texts and mobile data wherever they are travelling in the EU.