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Following a precedent set by O2 and Vodafone, Three Ireland has abolished charges for its Irish customers while they are roaming in Britain or Northern Ireland.

All domestic and UK calls made or received while roaming will be included in Three's monthly price plan for customers. If these calls use more than half a customer's allotted monthly minutes they will be charged at the same price as local Republic of Ireland calls - currently €0.30 per minute.

Three Ireland managing director Robert Finnegan told ElectricNews.Net that the decision to scrap roaming charges stemmed from feedback from customers. "We looked at trends of our customers - many of whom travel to Britain regularly. Roaming charges are unfair, so we decided to tackle the issue by eliminating them," said Finnegan.

"We also spoke to them about inadvertent roaming in border areas and decided that eliminating charges was the best solution. This is another example of Three trying to shake up the Irish mobile market," he added.

Finnegan was appointed managing director of Three Ireland in December 2005 and said the idea of eliminating roaming charges was floated early this year. "As you know there can be a time lag on the IT side of getting something like this up and running, but the fact that it begins tomorrow shows we are serious," he said.

In this respect Three's announcement is timely ahead of Ireland's clash against England at Twickenham on Sunday, and the horseracing festival at Cheltenham, which traditionally draws thousands of Irish punters across the water.

"We at Three treat all people equally and those travelling on business shouldn't be treated differently from those travelling on holiday," said Finnegan, who was keen to differentiate Three's announcement from O2 which, Finnegan said, abolished roaming charges for its business customers.

Finnegan said he had taken on board comments from the communications minister Noel Dempsey about looking at roaming charges, and said his firm had had discussions on roaming with ComReg earlier this year.

The Hutchison Whampoa-owned Three is also abolishing international charges for all calls from the Republic to the UK thus reducing them from EUR0.49 to EUR0.30 per minute.

Three also announced that same-network video calls will now be charged at the same price as normal voice calls.

Copyright © 2006, ENN

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