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Mobile phones in Northern Ireland

According to Ofcom Northern Ireland tops the UK mobile chart; Rural areas overtaking urban areas in take-up of many services; and Consumers in Northern Ireland shopping around for good deals.

Considerations to be made when choosing a mobile phone service provider include:

  • Coverage – signals may be stronger in some areas and weaker in others
  • Tariffs – charges can vary considerably
  • Payment options i.e. Pay as you go -v- Contract agreement

For guidance please visit the telephone: most commonly asked questions section on the Ofcom website – www.ofcom.org.uk  (Ofcom is the regulator for the UK communications industries, with responsibilities across television, radio, telecommunications and wireless communications services.)

The website contains impartial information including:

  • Advice on using mobile services abroad
  • Review of Additional Services
  • Mobile phones and health concerns
  • Choosing a mobile phone service
  • Switching mobile phone supplier
  • Mobile phone security issues
  • Mobile mis-selling

Price Comparisons Calculators

The following companies have been accredited under the Ofcom Price Accreditation Scheme:

Other Price Comparison sites:

NOTE: these are just a small selection of the many available online.

Mobile Broadband

Most mobile phone providers also offer mobile broadband , allowing you to access the internet via your mobile phone.

Cross Border Roaming

Inadvertent roaming occurs when a mobile phone user unknowingly connects to a base station in Northern Ireland while in the Republic of Ireland, and vice versa.  Usually where there is either a poor signal or no coverage from the “home” network. If the phone is in automatic network selection mode, then it will seek another signal. If the signal strength from a network operator across the border is sufficient, the device will roam onto that network to make and receive calls.

When setting up a mobile phone account it is best to shop around, especially if you intend to make calls across jursdictions, cross the border or travel in the border region.  Many people attempt to keep costs down by using two SIM cards, a northern one and a southern one.

It is advisable to contact your service provider in advance of travelling to see what charges will apply if you use your phone across the border.

EU Roaming Regulation

Source: European Commission/ Information Society

In June 2007 the EU reached an agreement on a Regulation that places a price limit on the price of using your mobile while travelling within the EU.

As of 1 July 2012, the Roaming Regulation states the following:

  • The price for sending a text message while roaming in the EU is limited to a maximum of €0.09. Receiving an SMS in another EU country is free of charge.
  • For roamed calls, operators are obliged to use per second billing after the first 30 seconds for calls made and immediately for calls received.
  • Citizens should be kept adequately informed of the charges that apply for roaming services.

The European Commission’s Information Society provides up-to-date information on Roaming charges within the EU

NEWS ITEM – The Telegraph, 14/06/2013

Roaming fees for voice calls, texts and internet access will effectively be completely scrapped under the proposals, which are part of a broader effort to create a single European telecoms market.

The group of 27 European Commissioners voted in Brussels on Tuesday [11/06/2013] to drive the package through in time for the European elections in May next year, to come into force as soon as 1 July 2014.

See also: