Time to make the meanest, most grudging, absolutely the snidest moue of congratulation and shove it with the worst grace possible at O2. The congratulations are due because the company has abolished an international roaming charge and there is no way such an act should go unmarked: all the rest of my bad-tempered huffing and puffing is because it's a wee runt of a tariff: contract customers of O2 Ireland won't pay for calls received in Northern Ireland.
Nothing illustrates the greedy absurdity of international roaming costs than what happens on national borders. Radio waves don't know anything about borders, especially those, like that between Northern Ireland and the South, which don't follow physical features. As a result, customers who live near or on the border can randomly find themselves electronically catapulted into some shadowy radio counterpart of the other side.
And when you get a whopping international charge for a phone call received from a pal 500m away while you're sitting on your own sofa in your own home — well, that's just taking the, er, well. It's positively rude.
O2 does find itself in a bit of a pickle, though. By abolishing this tariff it is acknowledging its unfairness — but it can't then claim it's fair for the Northern Irish to be stuck in the old situation. Nor can it really carry on charging a tariff — however reduced — for its pay as you go customers. The other operators should expect a ratcheting-up of consumer complaints about this iniquitous practice. Until they fix it.
And until then, it's everyone's duty to use voice over IP over WiFi hot spots, wherever they can. I'll be trying to do that as much as possible during my stay in Spain for 3GSM next week. That'll show 'em.