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Post-Brexit EU roaming charges set to make a comeback

Roaming EU mobile 16.9.jpg

BT’s EE and Telefonica/Liberty Global's O2 are the first two mobile operators to announce changes to its EU roaming fees as a result of Brexit.

In the case of EE, the company has said that any new customers or existing customers who upgrade as of 7 July 2021 will be charged £2 a day to use their data in 47 European countries as of January 2022.

In a statement an EE spokesperson confirmed this saying: “From January next year, EE will introduce a new flat fee of £2 a day for customers wishing to roam across 47 European destinations (with the exception of ROI which is included in domestic plans), allowing them to use their plan’s full data, minutes and texts allowance”

“This will apply only to new and upgrading customers signing up to EE from the 7th July 2021 and will support investment into our UK based customer service and leading UK network.”

Commenting on the change to roaming rules, Kester Mann, director of consumer and connectivity at analyst firm, CCS Insight, said: “BT would not have taken this decision lightly. Roaming is a poisonous term for consumers after travellers were hit by exorbitant prices for years. But this is also a far cry from the bad old days. EE’s £2 per day charge represents a fraction of the cost of an EU holiday.”

“Still, the company knows it will not be well received by its customers, and that it has handed on a plate a clear marketing opportunity to rivals. It would have had to carefully calculate that the upside outweighs any potential reputational damage.”

In the case of O2, the company has said that from August 2021, customers will be charged £3.50 for every gigabyte of data that exceeds its new 25GB limit while travelling in the EU.

In a statement to Metro an O2 spokesman said: “Less than 1% of our Pay Monthly customers reach anywhere near 25GB during occasional travel to Europe. If a customer’s UK monthly data allowance is over 25GB, from August 2 they will have a Roaming Limit of 25GB in our Europe Zone.

“This means they can use up to 25GB of their allowance at no extra cost – we’ll text them if they get close to the limit, and again if they reach it.  A customer can still use data if they reach our Roaming Limit but will be charged £3.50 per GB.”

The news follows the abolition of mobile data roaming charges across the EU back in June 2017, applicable to all member states. The Roam Like Home initiative resulted in mobile data within the EU quadruple within the first 5 months of launch, with a survey from mobile company Syniverse reporting growth of 308% year on year.

Further still, EE, O2, Three and Vodafone all confirmed in January of this year that despite the imminent departure of the UK from the EU, they had no plans to reintroduce roaming charges. A move that mobile specialist Ernest Doku, at Uswitch.com said is “hugely disappointing for consumers to see that situation change so quickly.2

“This is ultimately a backwards step for consumers. Unfortunately, when one provider makes such a bold decision it can mean that others follow. Always use hotel and cafe wifi when on holiday where possible.”

“The reintroduction of roaming charges reflects a failure by UK telecom operators to stem the long-term decline in average customer spend amid heavy investment in future fixed-line and mobile networks,” said Mann.

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