Mobile customers face roaming charges - in Kent


White Cliffs of Dover

It has emerged that Brits are facing international roaming charges, for using their phones in a corner of Kent. A geographical anomaly means that locals who turn on their phones - and unsuspecting tourists visiting the area - are greeted with a message welcoming them to France. If they continue to use their phones, they face roaming charges.

So what's going on, and how can this be fair?


The weird anomaly, reported by the Daily Mail, hits anyone in the village of St Margaret's at Cliffe. The village sits on the white cliffs of Dover - about two miles from Dover - and about 18 miles from France.

The proximity of France, the cliffs themselves, and the fact that mobile signals only travel in straight lines, means that when the phones look for a signal, they find one coming from France.

A report by the BBC says that the the atmospheric conditions and the weather can make the problem worse.

As a result, users are charged at least 28p a minute to make calls, almost 8p to receive them and nearly 9p to send a text.

A spokesman for EE, which owns T-Mobile and Orange told the newspaper: "We advise our customers to switch off roaming while they are in this little pocket of an area to ensure that they are connecting to the correct network." An O2 spokesperson also confirmed the problem.


According to the Daily Express, the only solution would be to install transmitters on the beach, which isn't going to go down well with either locals or tourists.

This isn't the only part of the country which ends up transmitting calls from unexpected places. The phones are designed to seek out the closest transmitter, and are naturally subject to geography and the weather. It means, for example, some towns along the Bristol Channel are a stone's throw from the nearest English transmitter, but find themselves relaying calls from Wales.

Of course, the different in Kent is that if you're not aware of the problem, you could end up paying the price for the fact that the shoreline is closer to France than to Maidstone.

It means that if you're straying close to France, it's worth turning off international roaming - unless of course you're visiting from France, in which case you could save yourself a small fortune.

It's also a useful reminder that whenever we consider changing it networks, it's vital to check the reception in your area. All the networks have full details on their website, and will let you know whether you get a strong local reception from your carrier. If you are in a geographical blind spot, it's worth looking elsewhere.

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