Committee addresses issue of roaming charges

Synopsis: The Assembly’s Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment today questioned EU officials on abolishing roaming charges, an issue that is of particular concern to Northern Ireland.

Session: 2013/2014

Date: 30 January 2014

Reference: CETI 07/13/14

The Assembly's Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment today questioned EU officials on abolishing roaming charges, an issue that is of particular concern to Northern Ireland.

The Committee quizzed Mr Vesa Terava, the senior official from the European Commission's DG CONNECT, which is the EU Directorate responsible for abolishing these charges by 2016.

The Committee is anxious that the EU Commission abolish roaming charges within the EU at the earliest possible date. Members questioned Mr Terava in detail in order to ascertain the work currently being done with mobile phone operators and heard, first hand, that DG CONNECT is very optimistic that Member States will support the proposal that roaming charges be abolished, however, a process on how to achieve this has yet to be developed. This will be a key issue for the Directorate over the coming months.

Speaking after the meeting, Committee Chairperson Patsy McGlone said: "I am very pleased the Committee was able to engage in this way with the senior DG CONNECT official today. Mobile phone users in Northern Ireland, particularly in border regions, can incur international roaming charges without ever leaving the jurisdiction – for some users without even leaving their homes.

"The sooner we move to abolish roaming charges for phone calls, texts and data and standardise mobile phone charges across the EU, the better it will be for consumers and businesses. A key aspect of this will be the investment in the infrastructure necessary to achieve this, especially in rural areas, and we urge the EU to ensure this takes place."

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