Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Questions (20)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

20. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the progress his Department has made to date with mobile phone operators in an effort to eliminate roaming charges for Irish customers while travelling through Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11500/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The regulation of retail charges for roaming services is implemented by way of EU Regulations which limit the maximum retail prices for retail roaming services within the European Union. The first such EU Regulation commenced in 2007. Two further EU Regulations were introduced in 2010 and 2012 to further reduce the maximum permitted retail roaming charges within the EU and to increase consumer protection measures by requiring service providers to inform users of the roaming charges they may incur and additional requirements to curtail services in order to avoid bill shocks in any billing period. The purpose of these recurring EU Regulations is to bring about common tariffs for both national and roaming services within the EU internal market.

The current EU Regulation, which commenced in July 2012, imposes two further reductions in retail roaming charges, effective from July 2013 and July 2014. When the second reduction is implemented in July next, the regulated maximum per minute price, exclusive of VAT, will have reduced from €0.49 in 2007 to €0.19 for making a call and from €0.24 in 2007 to €0.05 for receiving a call. In addition the retail price for data services when roaming, will have reduced from €0.70 to €0.20 per megabyte, exclusive of VAT, between July 2012 and July 2014.

In addition, the EU Regulation adopted in 2012 also requires mobile service providers to take positive steps to advise customers on the means of avoiding inadvertent roaming, which can occur in border regions when the mobile signal from a service provider in the adjacent State is stronger then the signal provided by a user's domestic service provider at any particular location. Mobile phone users can avoid inadvertent roaming by disabling the automatic network selection setting on handsets in favour of the manual network selection mode. In Ireland the competing service providers offer options for users roaming in Northern Ireland. The available options include roaming calls billed at national rates, no additional charges for calls received and some calls included within bundled minutes. The offers differ from service provider to service provider. Full details of the options available can be obtained from the individual service providers or on the website www.callcosts.ie.