Tuesday , 19 March 2019
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Border concerns over return of mobile roaming charges post Brexit

Border concerns over return of mobile roaming charges post Brexit

The prospect of having to pay mobile phone roaming charges post Brexit is becoming a concern for people living in border counties like Donegal.

Since June 2017 when the European Union scrapped additional charges for roaming on smartphones in other EU countries people in border counties, where signals roam in and out regularly, have not had to worry about big mobile bills. 

Recently however, the House of Commons was told that phone companies could introduce roaming charges post Brexit if they want to.

If the UK leaves with a deal, EU rules on roaming will apply until the end of the transition period. If there is no deal, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said mobile operators will be able to implement roaming charges if they want to, but he said, the UK government would legislate for a limit of £45 a month charges for mobile data used abroad.

He also stated that operators covering 85% of subscribers have said that they have no current plans to change their current approach to roaming after Brexit. 

In areas like Inishowen the possibility of higher mobile phone bills is adding to the stress and uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
 

Trish Hegarty, who runs Inis Communications in Stroove, says it is already difficult enough operating a business in a border area without the worry that Brexit will add to the cost of her business.

Prior to EU regulation on roaming charges she had to have two phones, one UK and one Irish because the Irish signal runs out close to her house and much of her work is in the North and London. It was awkward and costly and not a scenario she wants to return to. 

Nearby, Josephine and Michael Mulhall run a structural steel and cladding company in Greencastle and currently about half of their work is in the north.

Prior to EU regulation they were paying very high bills for their business mobile, anything between €600 to €900 a month compared to an average of €180 a month now.

Josephine says that everything about Brexit is worrying now but they still have no idea what is going to happen. She does not want to return to the way things were with roaming charges, but says whatever happens businesses like their’s will have to deal with it. 

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