Now that the UK is no longer an EU member, mobile operator EE is set to re-introduce European roaming charges, which had been scrapped in 2017. More service providers are likely to follow suit, one expert said.
Britons were delighted when in June 2017, an EU law to abolish roaming charges for people using mobile phones in the bloc comes into force.
It meant they could use their phone anywhere in the EU to call, text and browse the internet at no additional cost.
After Brexit, mobile operators in the UK promised they wouldn’t reintroduce this charge, even though they were no longer obliged to do so by law. EE, however, seems to have changed its policy.
An EE spokesperson said that from January next year, the company will introduce a flat fee of £2 ($2.78) a day for customers wishing to use their phones across 47 European destinations, which will allow them to use their plan’s full data, minutes and texts allowance.
This will apply to not only new customers who sign up after 7 July 2021, but also those who are upgrading their plan.
The move will “support investment into our UK based customer service and leading UK network,” EE said.
Customers travelling abroad for longer will be able to use a 30-day "Roam Abroad Pass".
"Essential" plan customers will be able to get the pass for £10, while those on EE's "Smart" or "Full Works" plans can include the pass as part of their plan.
Martin Lewis, founder of Money Saving Expert, said in a tweet that "this is the first real break in the ranks and sadly others will likely follow, but I doubt it will be universal, I suspect some will keep their EU roaming as it is now.”
He said Three UK, for instance, has “always made a great play of its roaming packages and it was to its competitive advantage.”
He added that until today all providers had said they wouldn’t reintroduce these fees, but believes EE and are setting a precedent.
Meanwhile, O2 has said its UK customers can keep using their data in the EU for free, but this will be capped at 25GB, assuming their monthly data allowance is more than that. This change will take place on 2 August.
A customer wanting to use more data will be charged £3.50/GB.
A company spokesperson told Yahoo Finance UK that reports stating that O2 customers face new roaming charges when travelling in the EU are misleading.
“Less than 1% of our pay monthly customers reach anywhere near 25GB during occasional travel to Europe," the spokesperson said, adding that other operators like Vodafone (VOD.L) already have a cap for customers who have unlimited and ‘non-unlimited’ data allowances when roaming in the EU.
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