The English village where mobile phones think they’re French

  • AFP, St Margarets At Cliffe, England
  • |
  • Updated: Apr 20, 2013 01:48 IST

It’s a typical English village overlooking the Channel, complete with a traditional pub as well as a parish church. But turn on your phone, and you will be left thinking that you are in France.

The only mobile network available in parts of St Margarets at Cliffe, located on the famous White Cliffs near Dover just over 20 miles across the water from France, is French and this means huge bills.

“We switch our mobile phones off when we’re not using them and switch them back on when we go out of the village,” said Nigel Wydymu, landlord of a pub.

“It’s more of a problem for tourists and visitors who come to have a walk on the cliffs... as soon as they make a call, it will dial out but it will go through the French network.”

“I just got down here and I got a message on my phone from supplier. It read: ‘Welcome to France — calls cost 28.8 pence per minute’,” said one man out walking on the cliffs.

Most people in Britain with mobile telephones sign up to a package which includes calls within the country, but calls made overseas are often excluded and charged at a much higher rate.

To find a British mobile phone signal, users have to head back up the steep cliffs to the church.

Graeme Neill, deputy editor of Mobile Today magazine, said the only way to resolve the problem was to build more masts, something operators are currently unlikely to do after the recent huge investment in third generation (3G).


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