Page last updated at 17:23 GMT, Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Roaming charges

The DUP's Robin Newton described a Sinn Fein motion on mobile phone roaming charges as "political" and having "nothing to do with addressing the issue", on 15 November 2011.

Mr Newton was opposing a motion calling for the immediate introduction of an all-Ireland telecommunications tariff.

His proposed amendment instead suggested "that regulation of telecommunications on a UK-wide basis is key to a competitive Northern Ireland marketplace".

Proposing the motion, Sinn Fein's Phil Flanagan said he was from a border constituency and therefore knew "the extreme challenges" posed by roaming charges.

Taking O2 as an example, he said that when a customer roamed on to O2 Ireland, they were charged the maximum legal roaming rate.

He claimed the company incurred no additional cost as a result and that all profits were "sheer greed and profiteering at our expense".

Pat Ramsey of the SDLP agreed that the issue of mobile tariffs needed to be tackled in border constituencies.

Stewart Dickson of the Alliance Party said the motion was unsuccessful in setting out what it aimed to achieve and questioned whether an all-Ireland tariff would lead to increased costs in calling the rest of UK.

The UUP's Mike Nesbitt expressed concerns that competition would be affected. He said: "I do not understand what benefit would befall the Northern Ireland economy."

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster agreed that Northern Ireland did benefit "from being one of the most competitive marketplaces".

She said telecommunications was not a transferred matter and was something she would continue to push her Westminster colleagues on.

For this reason, she said the assembly had little direct control over expediting an all-Ireland tariff.

The motion was passed as amended.


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