Welcome to France
Visitors to the famous white cliffs of Dover
are getting a nasty surprise
when they want to use their mobile phones –
they are picking up a French signal at higher charges.
Residents and tourists in the seaside village
of St Margaret-at-Cliffe and St Margaret's
bay at the foot of the Kent cliffs –
just 18 miles from France –
regularly get a "Welcome to France"
message and the extra costs, including data roaming
charges for smartphone users, from companies such as Orange F and SFR.
Landlord of the Coastguard pub and restaurant on the beach Nigel Wydymus,
53, said: "We are a little telecommunications enclave of France here.
"It did not cause a huge amount of trouble for
a few years because you got a message saying
'Welcome to France', but since smartphones have come in it's more of a problem.
"Obviously people strolling along
the beach in England do not expect to be on a French network and so,
unlike when they get off the plane
in Spain or elsewhere, they haven't switched
off their data roaming and it causes some extra bills.
"In the village the French signal is patchy
depending on the atmospherics and the weather,
but here on the beach the French signal is constant
because we are at the foot of the cliffs and the UK signal is blocked out."
Costs for making a call on the French network
can be up to four times the cost of using a domestic one
with a cost of up to 28p to make a call and nearly 8p
to receive one and nearly 9p to send a text.
The signal problem has upset locals who want
something to be done to stop the extra charges and inconvenience.
A spokesman for EE said: "We always recommend
our customers switch off roaming while they are in
this little pocket of an area to ensure that they
are connecting to the correct network because
we cannot control the networks from the other side of the water."
The issue is believed to affect all UK networks.