Vodafone to bring back roaming charges from January
Vodafone has become the second UK mobile company to reintroduce roaming charges for users travelling in Europe.
From January, new and upgrading customers will be charged at least £1 a day to use their mobile phone in EU destinations, on several tariffs.
It follows similar plans from rival EE, announced in June.
Initially, all operators said they would not reintroduce a roaming charge after Brexit, despite having the option to.
Vodafone’s approach is to limit those that include roaming in Europe to “selected plans”, including its more expensive options .
The rules will change for new and upgrading customers from Wednesday, 11 August, though the charges will not apply until January.
“Existing customers will not be impacted by these changes while they remain on their current price plan, and roaming in the Republic of Ireland will still be included for all customers,” Vodafone said.
After January, affected customers can pay £2 a day to use their allowance in Europe – £1 if bought in an eight or 15-day bundle.
Fair-usage limits also apply at 25GB of roaming data a month.
Since 2017, UK consumers have, within reason, been able to use their mobile-phone tariffs – calls, texts and data – as freely in the EU as at home.
But when the EU trade deal was signed in December 2020, it opened the door to users being charged when travelling in Europe.
While the agreement encouraged operators to have “transparent and reasonable rates”, it did not ban the charges outright.
EE was the first to break ranks, with its £2 daily charge to 47 European destinations, which will also kick in from January.
Its customers will also not be charged to use their phones in the Republic of Ireland.
Currently, O2 allows a roaming limit of 25GB, with any data used over that charged at £3.50 per gigabyte.
Three has cut its fair-use data limit from 20GB a month to 12GB when in Europe.
It charges £3 per gigabyte above that.
Uswitch mobile analyst Ernest Doku, said: “In the aftermath of Brexit, the UK’s biggest mobile providers all said that they had no immediate plans to change their charging models for consumers roaming within the EU.
“It’s disappointing for consumers to see that the situation looks to be shifting, with a risk that roaming at no additional cost could soon be a distant memory for UK residents.”
Travellers should check the small print if they were due an upgrade in coming months, Mr Doku said.
“Always use hotel and cafe wi-fi when on holiday, where possible,” he added.
But Paolo Pescatore, an analyst at PP Foresight, said the price changes were a “harsh reality” of Brexit.
“Wholesale roaming rates will change given UK’s exit, and this in turn will inevitably drive higher prices without EU protection. It’s a pretty easy decision for UK telcos,” he said.
All the operators “are struggling with margins being squeezed, and are seeking ways of increasing revenue while investing billions in costly next generation fixed and mobile networks”, he added.
Source: BBC News