‘Latest Ofcom report highlights need for all-Ireland mobile phone licences’ – Hazzard
Sinn Féin MLA Chris Hazzard has said that the latest Communications Market Report from Ofcom highlights the need for urgent action on mobile phone roaming charges in the area..
Speaking to Newry Times, Hazzard said:
“In November last year, in advance of a motion Sinn Féin brought before the Assembly calling for the abolition of roaming charges across Ireland, Sinn Féin met with representatives of Ofcom and requested that it research the cost of inadvertent roaming on consumers. Ofcom agreed and based on a 2007 report approximated that inadvertent roaming had cost consumers here in the region of £11 million in excess charges.”
“More advanced technology in recent years enabling many more users to access internet data and social media on smart phones has added substantially to the already exorbitant revenue that mobile providers are accumulating through inadvertent roaming. Although grateful to the staff at Ofcom for their cooperation in providing information on this issue I am calling on the regulatory bodies north and south to finally address this blatant rip-off of Irish consumers by creating criteria for the issue of all-Ireland licenses.”
Hazzard continued, “The excuse of two separate jurisdictions is not acceptable. We have a unique problem here in that we share a very small geographic land area where social, commercial and personal business are all interdependent and all obstacles to free flowing communication at reasonable rates must be removed. Unique problems require unique and imaginative solutions and I don’t accept that it is beyond our Regulatory bodies or our political institutions to resolve this perennial problem.”
“Service providers in both parts of this country are one and the same therefore if island-wide licenses are not practical there are no impediments on the providers themselves that would prevent them from implementing all-Ireland rates. If they are unwilling to instigate such rates within a reasonable timeframe then I believe that it is incumbent on the Regulators to collaborate in ensuring that the issue is resolved to the satisfaction of the consumer.”
“The exorbitant excess profit being accumulated at a conservative rate of £300 per annum through inadvertent roaming, I believe is merely the tip of the iceberg and should not be tolerated.
“This represents probably hundreds of millions of pounds of what would otherwise be disposable income that consumers could be spending in our local economy rather than allowing it to flow out of the country to expand the obscene profits of multinational companies and their shareholders whose only interest here is sheer profiteering. It’s time for action,” Hazzard added.
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