South and East Belfast Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Ó Muilleoir welcomes reduction in roaming rates‏

Published: 5 July, 2011

Sinn Féin Councillor for Balmoral, Mairtín Ó Muilleoir, has welcomed the latest reduction in roaming rates across Europe, which came into force today (1st July 2011). From today customers should pay no more than 32p a minute for calls made - a 3p reduction - and 10p a minute for calls received while within the EU.

"Once again, the European Commission has taken action to reduce the maximum price that mobile phone operators can charge when a customer is roaming.

"This is a welcome development but it is absolutely disgraceful that some networks have responded by adding a 66% charge onto some of their pay and go prices.

"For too long, consumers on both sides of the border have been completely ripped off by profit-driven mobile phone companies.

"While any reduction in extortionate roaming prices is of course welcome, the latest price cuts will leave few roaming customers rushing to make calls.

"The European Commission has previously carried out an investigation that concluded that Mobile Phone service providers were guilty of charging inflated 'roaming' tariffs - it seems that trend is set to continue.

"That investigation focused on the high cost of calls charged to travellers' abroad - mostly on holidays.

"But anyone here in Ireland that uses a mobile phone will be aware that this practice affects - on a daily basis - inhabitants that live in close proximity to or have to travel regularly cross border.

"Those travelling abroad are aware that using a mobile phone in a foreign country will incur additional costs.

"But living in close proximity to the border often results in involuntary 'roaming' charges being imposed on unsuspecting mobile users because of a competing stronger signal from the opposite side of the border.

"Mobile phone signals do not recognise borders and therefore short of turning the phone off when traveling, there is no option but to pay.

"That is unless the mobile phone service providers cease to exploit their customers on either side of the border.

"The imposition of these 'roaming' charges is even more unacceptable given that the major providers operate throughout the island of Ireland.

"There is no rational explanation why the regulators North and South should not be able to co-operate in devising a formula for a single tariff for the 32 counties - such a measure could also be used to provide coverage in current blackspots.

"Sinn Féin have recently written to the regulators North and South requesting meetings to discuss this continuing unfair practice and we will also be contacting the relevant Ministers to request that they actively pursue measures to address the problem.

"We intend to continue in our efforts to have this practice eradicated and replaced by a system of fair and equitable charges for service provided which is not impacted by where on this island a person lives."