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Sinn Féin calls for movement on Mobile roaming charges

9 November, 2005

Sinn Féin economy spokesperson, Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin has called on British direct rule Enterprise Minister, Angela Smith and Irish Minister for Communications Noel Dempsey to indicate when they will make a statement on the results of the consultation announced in early September into all-Ireland Mobile Phone charges.

Mr McLaughlin said:

„ I have written to both Ministers requesting information on when they intend to make a statement concerning their request to the Mobile phone operators to devise means of introducing all-Ireland Mobile phone tariffs. In early September Direct Rule Minister, Angela Smith and Irish Minister for Communications, Noel Dempsey gave the Mobile phone companies operating on the island three months to work with the two telecommunications regulators and come up with solutions to the problem of roaming charges in border areas.

"I led a delegation to a meeting with both Regulators earlier this year and was encouraged with the positive position held by the them on this issue. And I have to acknowledge that in similar meetings with a number of the Mobile Phone operators I found little resistance to the idea of all-Ireland Tariffs if a suitable formula could be identified.

„Sinn Fein has long campaigned to have this issue resolved in the interests of the many users that are being charged unwarranted roaming rates on a daily basis. I welcome the fact that there seems to be some movement on the issue by the Operators and the Regulators but I would like to see it addressed with much more urgency.

"Sinn Féin has put our proposals on how we think the problem can be resolved to the two regulators. If acted upon they would see the establishment of single all-Ireland tariffs jointly regulated by both regulators. But our intention is to see the problem addressed in a way that will be most beneficial to the end user. Sinn Féin will continue to engage with the mobile phone companies and regulators to achieve the best result for customers.

"The operation of two separate markets is a huge burden particularly for people living in border areas. Sinn Féin believes that it makes good economic sense for the development of a single all-Ireland telecommunications market. It would be of particular benefits for people living in border areas and for marginalised rural communities.

" As part of this review of telecommunications Sinn Féin also calls for the roll out of integrated broad band networks across the island of Ireland." ENDS

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