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Kent mobile users connecting to French networks

Villagers rack up international data-roaming charges

White cliffs of dover call charges Kent

If you’re careful to avoid data-roaming charges while travelling abroad spare a thought for the unfortunate residents of a Kent village who routinely are charged for unwittingly connecting to French mobile networks.

Mobile users in the Kent villages of St Margaret's at Cliffe and St Margaret's Bay near Dover regularly get "Welcome to France" messages. See also: Using the iPhone abroad: Avoid data roaming charges

So while they think they’re using call, text and data from their UK mobile plans they are racking up extra international costs from companies such as Orange F and SFR.

Villagers get connected to the French networks “depending on atmospheric conditions and the weather,” reports the BBC.

As mobile signals travel only in straight lines the famous white cliffs of Dover block out English networks. The local masts unfortunately don’t reach people walking along the beach, but the French networks muscle in to grab the connection.

There is a mast in St Margaret's, with a population of 2,500 people, and there are many more in nearby Dover but the beach area remains firmly in French hands.

Local pub landlord Nigel Wydymus told the BBC: "It did not cause a huge amount of trouble for a few years with mobile phones because you got a message saying welcome to France, but since smartphones have come in it's more of a problem.

Pat Kelly of nearby Martin-Mill told The Telegraph: "You switch on your phone and it says 'welcome to France'. I avoid the cliff area now because of the problem. Everyone has good cause to be angry about it and something needs to be done. Visitors to the area are unaware of it and are shocked when their bills come in."

Costs for making a call on the French network can be up to four times the cost of using the standard UK networks: prices start at 28p to make a call, 7.9p to receive one and 8.9p to send a text.

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