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Enterprise Committee to quiz mobile phone operators on roaming charges, coverage gaps & 4G roll-out

17 April, 2013 - by Phil Flanagan

The Assembly’s Committee for Enterprise, Trade & Investment will tomorrow (Thursday) hear from representatives of the main mobile phone companies, including O2, Vodafone, Everything Everywhere (T-Mobile & Orange) and 3 network on roaming charges, coverage caps and the roll-out of 4G technology.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, the Deputy Chair of the Committee and Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan said:

"The Enterprise Committee recently took evidence from Ofcom on the issue of roaming charges following the publication of its latest Telecommunications Market Report in July 2012.

“That report indicated that consumers in border areas were paying up to £300 a year in inadvertent roaming charges and that around £11 million was being lost to the local economy as a result.

"It is unacceptable that companies such as O2, Vodafone and 3 network, which operate across the island of Ireland, continue to impose unacceptable roaming charges on unsuspecting consumers.

“These excessive premiums are simply profiteering as there is no additional operating costs incurred by the companies, as the majority of consumers roam onto a network that is owned by the same parent company as the home network provider.

"I will be seeking to very clearly send the operators a message that it is time they stopped ripping consumers off when it comes to roaming charges.

“This will also be a good opportunity for the committee to find out more about the planned roll-out of 4G technology across the north and the impact it will have on access to mobile phone and high-speed broadband coverage, particularly in rural communities, many of which currently have no access at present.

“The committee will also want to question the operators on any future planned infrastructure improvements and what efforts they are making to tap into the £150 Mobile Infrastructure Project, which is specifically there to deal with mobile blackspots.”

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