Isle of Man mobile phone users may still have to pay roaming charges when travelling off island despite them being banned in the EU.
It was announced this week that the European Parliament had agreed to scrap the extra charges from June 2017 for using your mobile phone in countries across the European Union.
Roaming charges are added by mobile operators for calls, texts and internet browsing when phone users are abroad.
But a spokesman for the government’s Communications Commission said: ‘The Isle of Man is not part of the European Union, so cannot impose such reductions in tariffs on suppliers outside of the Isle of Man in respect of services provided to customers on the island, or on Isle of Man telecoms operators.
‘We are working with both Isle of Man operators to try to find innovative solutions to an issue that affects a number of people on the island.’
David Smith, marketing director of Manx Telecom, said: ‘Whilst the Isle of Man isn’t part of the EU, we will carefully monitor how the new rules are applied, the impact on the overall mobile propositions offered to customers overseas and indeed, whether all EU operators implement the rules.
‘Smartphones are driving increased use of mobile data through internet access, social media, apps, etc and the majority of this use whilst on-island is covered by an allowance provided as part of a Manx Telecom monthly package or a pay-as-you-go top-up, so our customers’ expectations of mobile data when roaming, are increasing.
‘With regards to mobile roaming charges for Manx Telecom customers, our roaming bolt-ons form just one part of our overall mobile value proposition.
‘We’ve also introduced a comprehensive free text alert service for our pay monthly customers, as we know that mobile data is often being used in the background, without the customer’s knowledge.
‘We are also upgrading our billing system which will allow us to offer our customers new tariffs which we believe will lead to improved confidence around mobile data use whilst roaming.
‘Our customers have clearly signalled this to be a priority and we are working hard to achieve this.’
Mike Fawkner-Corbett, of rival Sure, said: ‘We continue to work hard with our network partners around the world to drive down the wholesale cost of data, enabling us to pass savings onto our customers.
‘We’ve seen this already with data charges in the EU dropping from £5 per megabyte to 50p per megabyte this year.
‘We expect to continue cutting the price of data in the future. We have also ensured that all customers using data roaming have a usage limit in place to protect them from unexpectedly high bills, giving them peace of mind when travelling abroad.’
A statement from Sure added: ‘Sure will continue to negotiate roaming rates with each EU operator individually. Therefore Sure cannot guarantee that it will be able to match EU pricing which requires EU operators to charge the same price for data when customers are on the home network and roaming.’
The European Parliament has also ruled that an interim cap on charges will come into effect from April 30 next year, prior to the full ban across the EU in 2017.