NEWRY and Armagh SF MLA Megan Fearon and Councillor Colman Burns met with communications regulator OFCOM this week to discuss the issue of mobile phone roaming charges applied to customers in the South Armagh area.
Ms Fearon said the party had been working on the issue for many years and recently welcomed the announcement by EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes that roaming charges would be abolished by the summer of 2014.
“Following this announcement Councillor Burns and I met with OFCOM, the independent regulator for the communications industry, to see how progress could be made,” she said. “I am glad to report that pressure is mounting on the four main mobile providers to tackle unfair roaming charges.
“I am now contacting the main providers to encourage them to introduce an island wide tariff for the whole of Ireland and stop these stealth charges.”
Councillor Burns added: “People living in South Armagh and other border areas are simply being ripped off by these roaming charges. It can cost individuals up to £300 extra per year on their phone bill and this is not acceptable.
“On an island as small as Ireland, roaming charges are a nonsense and are simply an underhand way of charging people extra. Today’s meeting was useful in achieving the ultimate aim of abolishing roaming charges.”
In a bid to solve the issue of poor mobile phone coverage in South Armagh, MLAs Megan Fearon and Cathal Boylan are also meeting with Arqiva, a leading communications and media services company, to discuss upgrading reception to 4g across South Armagh.
Ms Fearon commented: “We are living in a world where people need to be able to connect at all times. The lack of connectivity in South Armagh has a detrimental impact on business and recreation.
“It is not tolerable that across huge parts of rural South Armagh people cannot be reached by mobile phone. I am very interested to hear what Arqiva are planning and I will be updating people following the meeting.”