Roaming charges were abolished in the European Union on June 15, 2017, and although the four main U.K. operators had promised to respect the agreement post-Brexit, two companies have announced they will reintroduce the fees to customers traveling with the EU.
Last week, Vodafone said it will reinstate roaming charges from August 11, 2021, for new customers or existing customers who change their contract, with fees applying from January 6, 2022. Those staying in the EU (except for Ireland, which will be exempt for all customers) will have the option of paying £2 per day or taking an 8- or 15-day package at £1 per day. Clients signed up to the “Unlimited Data Xtra plan with 4 Xtra benefits” or “Limited Data Xtra plan with 4 Xtra benefits” will pay no extra fee to use their U.K. allowance in Europe.
Vodafone U.K. boss Ahmed Essam justified the decision by explaining that most customers rarely use their phones outside the U.K., and that the fees will allow the company to “invest,” particularly in the “ultra-fast deployment of 5G” in mobile coverage in rural areas, as well as in the fiber network.
On June 24, EE announced roaming charges would apply to any customers who sign up or upgrade their plans after July 7. From January 2022, they will be charged a flat fee of £2 a day in 47 “European destinations” (not including Ireland) or they can purchase a 30-day Roam Abroad Pass.
The other two main U.K. carries, Three and O2, have made changes as to how much data customers can use while in Europe but have stopped short of bringing back roaming charges.
At the end of 2020, French operators confirmed that roaming fees are not expected to make a return for French customers visiting the U.K. A decision that Orange maintained last week.