SDLP and SF call for all-Ireland tariffs

The two main nationalist parties in the North are calling on the Irish and British governments to order mobile phone firms to introduce all-Ireland tariffs.

The operators have already been told to come up with solutions to the problem of people incurring roaming charges in border counties, and their response is due by the end of March.

The problem sees some people in certain areas being charged international rates because their signals are picked up by transmitters on the other side of the border. Pay as you go users are particularly penalised.

The UK’s Enterprise Minister Angela Smith and the Republic’s Minister for Communications, Noel Dempsey, have asked the telecommunications regulators in the North and South of Ireland to work with all phone companies to address this issue.

It seems likely that the mobile operators will home in on one or two potential solutions to the problem. All-Ireland tariffs are a definite candidate, but the other possibility is based on improving network coverage to reduce incidents of inadvertent roaming.

Noel Dempsey said: “Feedback from the Regulators indicates that some companies are investigating introducing special tariffs as a solution. It is our hope that the companies listen to their customers and develop a tariff-based solution”.

O2 is expected to take over as the main sponsor of the Irish rugby team in a deal that could be worth 1.5m Euros a year. Permenant TSB has decided not to renew when it’s four-year deal runs out at the end of this season’s Six Nations Tournament.

O2, which has been the ‘elite’ sponsor of England’s rugby team since 1995, is already the official mobile telecoms supplier for the Irish RFU and also sponsors Shannon, the reigning all Ireland League champions.