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Assembly Written Question 20950/17-22



To ask the Minister for the Economy (i) for his assessment of the risk of additional costs to consumers by the re-introduction of EU roaming fees; and (ii) to outline the engagement he has had with the UK Government on this matter.

Answer: As you are aware, mobile phone charges are a commercial matter for the privatised telecommunications providers. However, my Department continues to engage regularly with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on this and other matters.

My officials continue to highlight the unique position that many residents in Northern Ireland face regarding the possibility of crossing the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland many times a day as they go about their daily business, and why it is critical that they should not be subject to any additional costs while they do so.

I welcome the fact that the recent announcement from EE clearly stated that any introduction of roaming mobile charges will not be applied to their UK customers on the island of Ireland; this means that EE customers living or travelling in Northern Ireland should not incur any additional charges while ‘roaming’ accidentally or otherwise.

The recent O2 announcement was technically not a re-introduction of EU roaming charges, but rather a recalibration of their fair usage allowances, it is adding a "fair use" data cap of 25GB a month and will not charge customers more to use their phones in the EU. Effectively this means that plans with more than 25GB included will only get 25GB of free roaming data. Customers on plans below 25GB will be allowed to use all of that data while abroad at no extra cost. If they exceed their limit, it will cost £3.50 per gigabyte of data.

The application of fair use limits is a normal practice for telecommunications providers, and is something which these companies were also permitted to do when the UK was still part of the EU.

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