Latest Ofcom report highlights need for immediate abolition of roaming charges
Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has said that the latest Communications Market Report from Ofcom highlights the need for immediate abolition of mobile phone roaming charges across Ireland.
Mr Flanagan said:
"In November last year, in advance of a motion I brought to the Assembly calling for the abolition of roaming charges across Ireland, I met with representatives from Ofcom and asked them to carry out some research into the financial implications of roaming on local consumers.
"Ofcom agreed with this given that the last figures were based on the 2007 report, which revealed that some £11 million in charges were incurred by mobile phone users who were inadvertently roaming.
"Over the last five years, there have been significant reductions in roaming charges thanks to action by the European Parliament, but the usage patterns of the typical mobile phone users has drastically changed, with many more people now having access to smart phones and using substantial amounts of data on their phone for internet browsing, downloading files and accessing emails.
"It is therefore very useful to have this latest information to fully appreciate the extent of the problem, which clearly highlights the need for the immediate abolition of roaming charges across Ireland.
"I am grateful to the staff at Ofcom for taking this matter seriously and putting the issue of extortionate roaming charges back on the agenda.
"However, it is crucial that we do not let the matter of inadvertent roaming become the key talking point in the debate over the future of roaming charges.
"Whilst the report states that some mobile phone users are spending up to £300 per year on inadvertent roaming, that is merely the tip of the iceberg.
"The actual figure on the total spend on roaming charges across Ireland remains to be seen and it is a figure I will be pushing the mobile phone operators to make public.
"Residents and those operating businesses along the border corridor are being heavily penalised and it is unacceptable that this situation has been allowed to continue for so long.
"We cannot allow such vast sums of money to simply flow out of the local economy into the hands of companies who are engaged in nothing other than sheer profiteering.
"How multinational mobile phone operators like o2, Vodafone or 3 can justify charging consumers excessive premiums to use their phone on another network within the same parent company, at no additional cost to either company, is simply wrong and immoral so the sooner all roaming charges in Ireland are done away with the better."
Notes to Editors:
The Ofcom Communications Market Report can be found at the Ofcom website www.ofcom.org.uk