Ahern calls for border community to combat roaming charges


17 Oct 2003

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Communications Minister Dermot Ahern TD (pictured) and his Northern Ireland counterpart Ian Pearson have joined forces in calling on businesspeople and the community in the border regions to join in a crusade against mobile phone roaming charges.

Speaking at the launch today of a new joint website for Dundalk and Newry business, sporting and social groups, Ahern said that issue of mobile roaming charges was a critical issue for people living in the border regions.

Ahern had previously said that the public north and south were paying through the nose for the border thanks to the roaming charges imposed by phone operators. He added that roaming prices can result in a charge of 10-12c per mobile call rising up to 60 or 70c per minute as a result of straying onto a UK-based carrier.

The Minister called on the community to lobby for the scrapping of roaming and strings-attached mobile roaming.

The Minister said: “The joint website is conducting an online poll on the new M1 motorway. Can I make a suggestion for your second? Why don’t you ask whether Dundalk and Newry businesses want all-island tariff rates? And ask whether they want subscription-based services or no strings attached versions. And lobby with the results. Use your website to deliver change.”

Minister Ahern added one of the key impediments to trade is the high cost of mobile roaming. “And no matter what the operators tell us – the charges just have to come down. Northern Minister Ian Pearson MP agrees with me on this – the status quo is just not tenable. It really is time for the operators to come forward with real reforms to the current pricing tariffs. And we want them with no strings attached.”

By John Kennedy