Mobile network ‘Three’ announces abolition of roaming charges
Mobile network Three has announced plans to abolish roaming charges in Ireland.
The mobile network giants are the first company to abolish roaming charges in seven countries; Republic of Ireland, Australia, Italy, Austria, Hong Kong, Sweden, and Denmark as part of their ‘Feel at Home’ initiative.
Thomas Malleschitz, marketing director at Three, said, “By abolishing expensive roaming charges in select countries, we are allowing our customers to get even more value from their minutes, texts and data abroad by removing the fear associated with staying in touch whilst travelling.”
Local politicians welcomed the news, particularly for the South Down and South Armagh areas, both of which have experienced a high level of roaming charges, reportedly up to £300 a year for some people.
Sinn Fein MLA Megan Fearon stated, “During a recent meeting with mobile communications regulator OFCOM the number one topic raised by both myself and my colleague Councillor Colman Burns was that of inadvertent roaming in border areas.
“It is estimated that this was costing consumers up to £300 per year. The practice by mobile communications companies of utilising two tariffs on the island of Ireland has no other motive but the generation of profit at the expense of consumers in border areas who have no option but to roam.”
Councillor Burns added that he hoped other providers would follow suit saying, “For too long people living in South Armagh, and other border areas, have simply been ripped off by mobile phone companies who exploited the artificial border in Ireland.
“It is ludicrous that people in this area roam on to an international network when they are a few miles from their homes. The charges incurred for this unavoidable roaming are extortionate and I am delighted to see that Three have taken on board the concerns of people here and rectified this situation.
“It is now incumbent on the other network providers to do the same,” Councillor Burns added.
SDLP representative for the South Down constituency Sean Rogers said the news will be particularly welcome for customers from Warrenpoint/Rostrevor,through to Kilkeel and beyond who through no fault of their own are plagued with ‘inadvertent’ roaming charges.
Rogers told Newry Times, “Within the past weeks my office discussed in detail the issue of inadvertent roaming charges with the Director of Ofcom for Northern Ireland who was able to confirm that roaming charges can cost consumers in the border areas an estimated £300 in additional charges per year.”
The SDLP MLA, who described such revenues generated from border regions as ‘scandalous’, went on to explain how ‘Three’ should be congratulated on leading the way into a complete ban across all networks.
He said, “Major reforms on telecoms regulations within Europe will see an end to these extortionate charges across all networks, nonetheless I wish to place on record my congratulations to ‘Three’ who have raised the bar on customer services.
Rogers remained cautious however that customers should continue to watch the small print. He added, “I would urge all mobile users to remain vigilant at home and abroad when using their mobile to ensure they continue to operate within the confines of their contract.”
Jonathan Rose, Director of Ofcom Northern Ireland, said, “Three’s decision to abolish roaming charges is a boost for customers in Northern Ireland and especially for those who incur inadvertent roaming charges.
“Last year Ofcom carried out research that showed these roaming charges can cost consumers in border areas up to an estimated £300 in additional charges per year, with those living in South Armagh and South Down worst affected.
“In this context, Three’s decision to abolish roaming charges for customers roaming in seven countries, including the UK and the Republic of Ireland, is welcome.
Rose added, “This will benefit Three UK customers living in border areas as well as those travelling in the Republic of Ireland. We urge other mobile operators to follow Three’s lead and introduce similar plans.”
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