UK Regulator Acts to Reduce Accidental Roaming Along National Borders
Published on: 15th Jan 2014
By: Ian Mansfield
The UK's telecoms regulator Ofcom has published new information to help consumers in Northern Ireland understand the different options available to help them reduce or avoid expensive inadvertent roaming charges when close to the border with the Republic of Ireland.
EU legislation now requires that mobile operators take reasonable steps to protect their customers from paying inadvertent roaming charges.
Since 2012, Ofcom has been in discussions with the main operators in Northern Ireland to understand the steps they are taking to protect their customers from these charges.
Operators have tackled the problem for customers living and working in affected areas in a number of different ways. Some offer special tariffs and apps that can help reduce inadvertent roaming costs. Operators also provide specific advice to their customers about reducing the exposure to these charges, including on their websites.
Ofcom said that it is pleased with the progress that has been made to date and the benefits delivered to consumers.
"It is important that consumers have information that enables them to make informed decisions. Where inadvertent roaming charges are an issue for them, this includes information about the options available to protect themselves against those charges," said Ofcom's Chairman Colette Bowe, speaking in Belfast.
Significant investment in new mobile masts, especially in border areas, through the Government's £150m Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP), while improving mobile coverage generally could also help to reduce the incidences of inadvertent roaming.
Sites have been identified in Northern Ireland, many in border areas.
Jonathan Rose, Ofcom's Northern Ireland Director, said: "This is a significant opportunity to bring mobile coverage to many rural and border areas where there is none at the moment. This would also help tackle the problem of inadvertent roaming, which occurs because the signal from your domestic UK network is weak or non-existent."