THE Channel Islands mobile phone market could be transformed after a watchdog announced it was looking to negotiate with UK operators such as O2, EE and Three to allow islanders to take contracts out with them.
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 and Regulatory Authorities, said that the current mobile phone market in the islands was ‘not sustainable’.
This week roaming charges for all phone users in the EU were abolished.
This means that 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.
However, 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 pay-monthly customers will also benefit from free roaming in Jersey and Guernsey.
Jersey’s three mobile phone providers – Airtel-Vodafone, JT and Sure – said that they had no plans to reciprocate with a similar deal for islanders.
Mr Byrne said the current approach in Jersey and Guernsey was ‘unsustainable’ and was inhibiting business development.
Many Channel Islanders are currently not allowed to sign up to UK contracts. An EE spokesman said that only islanders with strong ties to the UK – those who spend 60 out of every 120 days in the UK – could take out contracts.
Mr Byrne said that he wanted to change that to give islanders access to the more competitive UK market.
He said: ‘What we want to look at is how to make the Channel Islands a more attractive proposition for UK operators.
‘We are not seeing enough proactive engagement with the three local operators so we want to see if there are options with UK operators to offer deals to people in the Channel Islands.’Subscribe to our Newsletter