Smartphone Users At White Cliffs Of Dover Incur Roaming Charges

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Residents and tourists in Kent are unwittingly roaming while still in the UK

Residents and visitors to the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent are picking up French mobile networks on their mobile phones, unwittingly racking up roaming charges.

Users in the seaside village of St Margaret-at-Cliffe and St Margaret’s bay frequently receive ‘Welcome to France’ messages and incur extra costs.

Residents of the village, located just 18 miles from the French coast, say that the issue has been present for a number of years, with users regularly redirected onto French operators such as Orange France, SFR and Bouygues Telecom.

Big bills over the white cliffs of Dover

White Cliffs of DoverThis has meant that the cost of making or receiving phone calls or sending texts has been far higher. The problem has existed for some time, but the advent of smartphones and the amount of data that such devices consume, has exacerbated the problem.

Network coverage in the village is described as intermittent and depends on the atmospheric conditions and weather, but reception from French operators is constant on the beach, as the cliffs completely block out signal from UK operators.

The problem, which is believed to affect all UK carriers, can be partly solved by turning off data roaming, but this does not prevent calls and texts being sent over the French networks. Residents have grown tired of the additional charges and have called for the major UK operators to come up with a solution. However they have apparently said that the issue is out of their control.

The only consolation for village residents is that their virtual French excursions roaming have now become cheaper following new rules implemented across the EU last summer.

Mobile users from across the Channel appear to have the upper hand in Anglo-French mobile relations at the minute. Since last year, passengers on Eurostar and Le Shuttle services travelling to the UK have been able to use their mobile phones in the Channel Tunnel after French operators signed up to provide services in the south tunnel.

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