Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Timmy Dooley has said that Minister Naughten has failed to adequately engage with the mobile phone operators on the issue of roaming charges, and has allowed them room to evade new EU rules.

Deputy Dooley made the comments after he requested that ComReg be brought before the Oireachtas Communications Committee to explain how they plan to ensure that Irish mobile phone operators enforce new rules which will end  roaming charges.

“We have heard reports that a number of Irish operators were planning to circumvent the new EU regulations and claim that ‘unlimited data’ is a service benefit rather than a core part of a customer’s plan.

The end of roaming charges is due to commence from July 1st 2017 with successive reductions in maximum charges planned over the next two years.

“As I said previously, this is a highly cynical and mean-spirited attempt by the phone operators to continue to gorge on the cash-cow that is roaming charges in the pursuit of increased profit.

Minister Naughten cannot be allowed ignore his responsibilities on this matter. He needs to immediately haul in the operators to meet him, and explain to them in no uncertain terms that what they are proposing is counter-productive and ill advised.

“This is an issue that’s wider than Irish people visiting another EU member state. It affects Irish people living along the border with the North on a daily basis.

“This flagrant attempt to circumvent EU regulations has the potential to damage Ireland’s reputation, and worryingly deter would-be tourists from visiting Ireland.

“They would rightly expect Irish operators to implement EU regulations in the same way as in their own countries.

“With the Minister already failing to roll out high-speed broadband quickly enough across the country, is he really going to allow mobile phone operators damage our tourism potential by letting them continue to charge excessive roaming charges?

“Irish consumers have been the victims of excessive roaming charges for decades, and they, especially those living along the border, have been awaiting the end of these exorbitant fees for some time.

“Any attempt by Irish operators to evade the new rules should be met forcefully by the Minister, in conjunction with ComReg.

“The EU Commission is absolutely clear in its belief that no operator can continue to charge such excessive fees, and attempts by Irish operators to circumvent their implementation are a direct violation of the rules,” concluded Dooley.