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UK Gov Warns – No More FREE EU Mobile Roaming from 2021, Maybe

Thursday, January 30th, 2020 (2:30 pm) - Score 5,639

In a somewhat unsurprising development the Government has again warned UK people that the current “guarantee of free mobile phone roaming” throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway “will end” on 1st January 2021, which marks the conclusion of the imminent 11 month Brexit transition period.

At present citizens of the European Union benefit from free mobile roaming via the “Roam Like At Home” regulation. As such anybody choosing to use their Mobile (SIM) to make calls, text or use data (mobile broadband) while roaming around the EU should be able to do so for the same price as they pay their UK operator (i.e. no extra roaming charges); although there are some caveats for data usage above a certain level.

One obvious casualty of Brexit was thus always predicted to be free roaming, which could result in UK consumers once again having to face higher charges for using their mobile while travelling around the EU. So far we’ve seen nothing that would protect this agreement in the current Brexit deal, although it’s entirely possible that the issue may yet come up as part of the future trade negotiations.

Nevertheless for now the UK Government’s official guidance seems to serve as more of a warning and the only protection is a legislated cap of £45 on roaming charges (first proposed in 2018), which fails to address the underlying issue.

Government Position on Mobile Roaming

From 1 January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end.

Check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get from 1 January 2021.

A new law means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing.

Once you reach £45, you need to opt in to spend more so that you can continue using the internet while you’re abroad. Your phone operator will tell how you can do this.

On the other hand both Vodafone and Three UK have previously committed to retain free EU mobile roaming after Brexit (example), while EE (BT) has previously indicated that they too have “no plans” to change how they do things (one caveat when an operator says “no plans” is that such positions can change). Meanwhile it’s unclear where O2 stands on all this but they’d probably have to follow what their rivals are doing or risk losing customers.

Admittedly the issue here is that there would be nothing to stop some EU operators from raising their charges against UK providers. However EU operators would still have to be mindful that EU citizens visiting the UK might also face higher charges, unless existing agreements between operators are retained.

Meanwhile some operators, such as Vodafone, are extremely large pan-European companies and so will find it much easier to support free roaming than others, at least in the countries where they already have a presence.

Leave a Comment
40 Responses
  1. Avatar Daza

    As long as one of them keep it free the rest should follow.

  2. Avatar CJ

    Agreed that free roaming will almost certainly live on in some form, just not guaranteed by law.

    The old cash cow of people unwittingly running up a large roaming bill has effectively been killed off by bill caps and text messages announcing the cost of roaming. Now it makes more business sense to negotiate good reciprocal roaming agreements and use them for competitive advantage.

    The bigger risk is a return to networks advertising free roaming, but using traffic management to make it all but useless like the original Feel At Home.

  3. Avatar TheTruth

    My only complaint about Brexit is……

    It didn’t happen sooner 🙂

    • Avatar batty cat

      i think you’ll have far more regrets than that in the years to come…

    • Avatar dave

      If it had happened sooner then we would be closer to people realising it doesn’t work and rejoining the EU!

    • Avatar TheTruth

      @batty cat

      Don’t speak for me 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Avatar TheTruth

      @dave

      Less than 25 hours to go 🙂

    • Avatar Mr Tony Pitcher

      The rejection of article 13 is a very welcome benefit, that ridiculous law is one step away from Chinese style censorship. The less governing, the better.

    • Avatar mike

      Less than 25 hours until we enter the transition period where absolutely nothing has changed. You believed a lie if you thought Brexit would be “done” today.

    • Avatar TheTruth

      @mike

      I think you have misunderstood, at 11pm on 31st January 2020 the UK leaves the EU

      The transition period occurs immediately after the UK leaves the EU

      Stop being a remoaner and move on.

    • Avatar dave

      There’s no misunderstanding by Mike. In reality nothing changes tonight, except we have no further say in the EU (but we still have to pay into it and follow all the laws and regulations throughout the transition period).

      Brexiteers can try to convince themselves that this is Brexit but honestly, it’s just a kind of limbo. A kind of Brexit will follow the transition period but nobody has even the slightest clue yet what kind of Brexit it will be.

    • Avatar TheTruth

      @dave

      We are out 🙂

  4. Avatar Steve Arnold

    A balanced article would of mentioned the benefit of blue passports. Typical romoaner, you say you can’t put a price on freedom but we are about to, bring on the tariffs and trade barriers I don’t care I am mortgage free so loads of spare cash I will be fine and so will the rest of the patriots. Royal Britannia I say.

    • Avatar Mike

      Mark has been salty since 2016, rather than just accepting democracy and trying to make the best out of it he has continued to post articles like this, great shame.

    • Avatar dave

      The article is based on reality. Should it just be ignored instead because it highlights one of the many potential downsides of Brexit?

    • Avatar Hans Moleman

      Well, at least you’ll be fine so that’s nice. Trolling git.

    • Avatar TheTruth

      @dave

      Price worth paying for freedom 🙂

    • Avatar dave

      We are free in every way which matters already. This is not North Korea, or even China.

      Your personal freedoms will not increase as a result of Brexit and neither will our freedoms as a country. We are likely to end up being dictated to by the US.

      In fact they are trying it already with Huawei.

    • Avatar TheTruth

      @dave

      🙂

    • Avatar MrMoo

      @Dave The yanks are right to be weary of Huawei, they are very much in bed with the chinese government, a communist dictatorship that spies on its citizens much more aggressively than any other country.
      The fact that you’d happily allow China in through the back door just to spite trump and brexiteers speaks volumes about you personally.

    • Avatar dave

      The fact that you have made judgements about me in relation to my comment about Huawei, even though I haven’t even stated what my personal feelings are about Huawei, shows that you have some mental defects.

    • Avatar TheTruth

      @dave

      We are out 🙂

  5. Avatar Meadmodj

    It will depend on the inter provider agreements. My wife is on THREE because she went to NZ and AU in 2017 and my daughter is currently on THREE travelling around Asia, NZ and AU as THREE are part of Hutchison. So going forward for instance there is no reason why Vodafone for instance would not provide inclusive or preferable roaming deals in their EU areas. If not options such a local 4G SIM in a MIFI and use a UK provider that supports WIFI Calling.

  6. Avatar Nihgel Faraj

    Smol pix far are frewdam! Gad saf teh Qweam!! Rwool Bwitammia!!!

  7. Avatar kds

    Thank you, middle-age racist people, from outside London and Scotland. Boris will pay the bill for you lot 😀

    • Avatar dave

      I fear Mark will shut this Brexit discussion down, as he has many others. Though in this case, the article is specifically about Brexit!

    • Avatar TheTruth

      @kds

      Get a grip

    • Avatar TheTruth

      @dave

      No Brexit discussion to be had, we are leaving

      Thank you and good night

    • Avatar kds

      @theTruth thank you for your advice, I listen to middle-age white and doing some mundane job from some mundane areas. You are the highly evolved human.

      Boris is our leader and Trump is American’s this shows white people are highly evolved. Science is correct on this one 😀

    • Avatar TheTruth

      @kds

      You said I was white? – Answer is No
      You said I was middle-age? – Answer is No
      You said I was doing a mundane job? – Answer is No
      You said I was from a mundane area? – Answer is London (E15)
      You said I was a highly evolved human? – Answer is No

    • Avatar mike

      Some parts outside of London in England voted to remain

    • Avatar TheTruth

      @mike

      You said “Some parts outside of London in England voted to remain”

      But more voted to leave 🙂

  8. Avatar Fred

    On the roaming tariffs front, I doubt much will change. Even if it does this is small fry compared to the other ramifications of Brexit. Personally I think Brexit will prove to be a disaster and we are all entitled to our own opinion. In reference to an earlier post, as it happens I don’t have a mortgage either and Brexit is unlikely to effect me particularly but I do spare a thought for people who are not in such a fortunate position. I strongly suspect it will be less advantaged people who will fare the worst. The biggest casualty is likely to be the environment though, and that is far more important than all the other factors put together (and again will impact the less wealthy most). Reduced regulation will give the Government more freedom to ignore climate change and mirror the sorts of policies pushed by Trump and Scott Morisson. And yes, the telecoms and digital media sector is not a very green industry at the moment. I’ll probably be dead before the worst of it hits the fan but I do care about the legacy we are leaving for our children. On the energy consumption front, the telecoms and digital services industry needs to do a lot more to become more sustainable from a CO2 perspective and is responsible for very sizeable emissions – the industry needs to urgently address this if the UK is to stand any chance of meeting the rather unambitious Paris Climate agreement and Brexit will just make that harder in the UK.

  9. Avatar CarlT

    I need more palms and more faces to get close to adequately conveying my feelings on this comments thread.

    This is ISP Review, not Daily Politics, guys.

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