Islands’ mobile phone market could be opened up to other operators

THE Channel Islands mobile phone market could be transformed after its watchdog announced it was looking to negotiate with UK operators such as O2, EE and Three and to allow islanders to take contracts out with them.

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Such contracts are significantly cheaper and now offer free roaming across Europe, which with some operators includes Jersey and Guernsey.

Michael Byrne, chief executive of the Channel Islands Competition Regulatory Authorities, speaking to the Jersey Evening Post, said that the current mobile phone market in the islands was ‘not sustainable’.

On Thursday, roaming charges for all phone users in the EU were abolished.

It means UK mobile users can use their regular allowance of calls, texts and data for no extra cost anywhere inside the European Union.

Because Jersey and Guernsey are not part of the EU, islanders will not automatically benefit from the changes.

But two of the UK’s largest mobile providers – 02 and EE – have now confirmed to the JEP that they have struck a deal so that their customers will also enjoy free roaming in Jersey and Guernsey, despite the islands being outside the EU, for their pay-monthly clients.

However, Jersey’s three major mobile providers – Airtel-Vodafone, JT and Sure – all said that they had no plans to reciprocate with a similar deal for islanders.

Mr Byrne said that the current approach in Jersey and Guernsey was ‘unsustainable’ and inhibiting business development.

‘Consumers’ needs are changing and several things are coming to a head,’ he added.

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