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Will Mobile Roaming In The EU Remain Free After Brexit?

31st January 2020

Today is the day the UK leaves the EU, entering an 11-month transition period. There are lots still to be agreed upon during this time, one of which is a new mobile roaming agreement.

Roaming is when you use your mobile phone abroad and since 2017 UK consumers have been able to use their UK tariff allowances free of charge when travelling in the EU. This has been the same for consumers from other EU countries visiting the UK.

Before the rules were changed, using a mobile phone in Europe was expensive, and often people were returning from trips to a bill for hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

Will These Charges Return After Brexit?

When the UK leaves the EU on 31st of January, there will be a transition period until the end of 2020. During this period practically all EU rules and regulations, including on mobile roaming in the EU, will continue to apply.

However, the government’s website states: “From 1 January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end.”

What happens after the 1st of January 2021 will depend on what is agreed about the UK’s future economic relationship with the EU. If nothing is agreed then mobile operators would be able to implement roaming charges after the end of the transition period.

Government Safeguards

However, irrespective of what the new terms will be, the government has passed legislation that would provide some safeguards to mobile users:

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

What Are The Mobile Networks Saying?

Just because the operators may be allowed to reintroduce roaming charges, it does not necessarily mean that they will do so.

This is what providers have said so far:

Three has no plans to bring them back in, regardless of how Brexit negotiations turn out.

Vodafone said it currently had no plans to change its roaming charges because of Brexit.

EE said: “Our customers enjoy inclusive roaming in Europe and we have no plans to change this based on the Brexit outcome.”

O2 said: “We currently have no plans to change our roaming services across Europe. We will be working closely with the UK government and other European mobile operators to try to maintain the current EU ‘Roam like at home’ arrangements once the UK leaves the EU.”

Only time will tell but we will be sure to keep you updated along the way!

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