Mobile roaming and Brexit – what to expect?

Users are now set to have more of a financial burden with mobile operators now charging for roaming in Europe

Travelling abroad can cost a fair bit – especially in our current climate if you have to factor in the costs of covid tests and quarantine. But in addition to all this, users are now set to have more of a financial burden with mobile operators now charging for roaming in Europe. Find out latest news about UK roaming charges and Brexit below.

Now, with the transition period over, the most recent operator to introduce these extra charges to UK customers are EE.

Since 2017, UK users have been able to use any minutes, texts and data included with their mobile phone tariffs when travelling in the EU, but since January of this year, operators have been allowed to reintroduce roaming charges as the Brexit trade deal didn’t rule out its reintroduction.

 

What roaming charges will EE customers face? uk roaming charges Brexit

When announcing the latest news, EE said the charges would “support investment into our UK-based customer service and leading UK network”.

Using the minutes, texts and data in the EU/EEA is no longer included in any plan allowance, but from January 2022, you can use your minutes, texts and data allowances in our European roaming zone for £2 a day.

So if you’re heading away for seven days, you will be charged £14.

If your plan started before 7 July 2021

If you’re on a pay monthly plan and your contract started before 7 July 2021, these changes will not affect you.

If your plan started on or after 7 July 2021

Customers who join or upgrade their contract after July 7 £2 a day to use their tariff allowances in 47 European destinations.

Will I face roaming charges if I renew my contract? uk roaming charges Brexit

Yes.

If you’re an existing EE customer, you won’t face any charges if you don’t take any acton- it’s only those who sign up to a new EE deal or renew their contract from July 7 onwards.

When your contract is up, it’s worth looking elsewhere to see if it’s worth staying or finding better deals which may save you money in the long run.

Here’s how the new charges will work:

  • One fixed daily payment of £2 per day
  • You don’t need to do anything to opt in: if you use your allowances you’ll pay £2 for that day, and if you don’t, you won’t be charged anything
  • Your allowances work just like at home and if needed, you can buy more data.

These are the destinations you will be charged in starting for January 2022:

Calls, texts and data within the Republic of Ireland are included within your allowance. If you use up your allowance, the £2 daily charge will apply.

There will also be 30-day packages available for people travelling for longer periods.

Will other networks be charging?

Vodafone, Three and O2 still say they do not plan to introduce roaming charges.

Despite this, there are ‘fair use limits’ put in place surrounding the amount of time that a customer will be allowed to use their phones abroad with customers being told that if they spend more than 62 days abroad over a four-month period, they will be charged.

02 currently have a monthly data limit of 25GB with customers being charged £3.50 for each GB after that.

Vodafone’s limit is also 25GB with a £3.13 charge per GB and from July, Three will join others and cut its fair use limits from 20GB a month to 12GB, charging £3 per GB after.

In addition to these main networks, BT Mobile, Giff Gaff, Plusnet, Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Vodafone and Voxi have confirmed they have no plans to change their current mobile roaming policies

According to the BBC, these rules could have been applied before the UK left the EU, however some have only just started to enforce it due no the agreement not ruling it out.

VIRTUAL NETWORKS roaming charges

Virtual Networks, or MVNOs use the big four to provide service. For this reason you’d expect them to be beholden to the same roaming charges, but in fact it seems like they’re less keen to impose extra charges. This could be because they’re often defined as budget offerings, although they offer mostly the same features as the networks they piggyback on.

GiffGaff (O2 network)

Has no immediate plans to increase charges. Unlike some MVNOs GiffGaff is wholly owned by O2 so that makes it perhaps more likely to introduce the same rules. GiffGaff seems to offer a mix of deals, some state that 20GB is allowed in the EU, while others seem unlimited. Check what applies to your plan with the company if you’re unsure.

ID Mobile (Three network)

Doesn’t seem to have any plans to increase charges currently, but also doesn’t rule it out in the future either. ID is owned by Dixons Carphone though, and that company’s not exactly having the best time at the moment, so time will tell how it adapts to the market.

Sky Mobile (O2 network)

Sky Mobile has no plans to increase its charges for roaming, the company told TechRadar.

Virgin Mobile (EE currently, moving to Vodafone this year)

Virgin Mobile’s charging plans are currently unknown. Virgin Mobile is a weird case because it previously used EE’s network, but transitioned 5G customers to Vodafone at the start of the year. Virgin also merged with O2, complicating things further. It seems likely that it will use O2’s network at some point, but its Vodafone deal is said to run for five years, and it’s not clear if it could exit that contract.

Tesco Mobile (O2 Network)

Again, no current plans to increase charges from Tesco Mobile.

Will other companies end up charging customers more?

They may charge, but they also might not – it’s complicated.

The BBC article said that without the EU rules in place, “the charges levied depend on agreements between UK operators and their counterparts in EU countries. While these agreements may mean charges haven’t increased so far, there’s no guarantee that they won’t do so at a later date.”

Despite this, MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis warned that other mobile providers “will likely follow”:

The UK government passed legislation to provide some safeguards for consumers which include:

  • A £45-a-month limit on the amount that customers could be charged for using mobile data abroad before having to opt into further use
  • Requirements for customers to be informed when they have reached 80% and 100% of their data allowance
  • Operators also have to take “reasonable steps” to avoid customers being charged for accidental roaming in Northern Ireland, which could happen if a phone in Northern Ireland locked onto a mobile signal coming from the Republic of Ireland

You can find out how much it will cost you here.

 

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