Changes will come into effect in January 2022.
EE has announced it will reintroduce roaming charges for new customers from January 2022.
The mobile operator says that those joining or upgrading from July 7 2021 will be charged £2 per day to use the network in 47 European destinations.
EE becomes the first operator to reintroduce the charges since Brexit.
This comes despite all four operators saying that they would not reintroduce roaming charges in January 2021.
UK customers will not be charged for using their devices in the Republic of Ireland but customers travelling to the 47 affected countries will be able to buy 30-day passes to use their home tariff abroad.
It remains to be seen if the other operators will follow suit.
CCS Insight director of consumer and connectivity Kester Mann said: “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.
“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.”
— Kester Mann (@kestermann) June 24, 2021
Uswitch.com mobiles expert Ernest Doku added: “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 hugely disappointing for consumers to see that situation change so quickly.
“This move means that customers joining or upgrading with EE from July will have to pay £2 a day to use their data and minutes across Europe from 2022. EE says the move will support investment in its UK-based services, but this is ultimately a backwards step for consumers.
“Unfortunately, when one provider makes such a bold decision it can mean that others follow, so we’ll be watching to see what O2, Vodafone and Three do next. If you’re an existing EE customer, these charges won’t affect you yet, but make sure you check the small print if you’re due an upgrade in the coming months.
“When it comes to travelling, don’t leave it till the last minute to check the roaming charges for your destination, and always use hotel and cafe Wi-Fi when on holiday where possible.”
Three UK said Three’s position on roaming will not change but they will not be implementing a roaming fee. However, there has been a change to fair usage.
A spokesperson for the network said:
“Following a review of our fair use policy, we are making some changes to our Go Roam policy in the EU to bring it in line with our Go Roam Around the World fair use policy. This means from July 1 our fair use limit for data while in the EU will reduce from 20GB per month to 12GB.
“The new fair use limit is still more than enough for holidaymakers to use their phone like they would if they were in the UK. There is no change to our surcharge, so data usage over 12GB (up to the customer’s allowance), will remain subject to a small fee of 0.3p per MB.”
A spokesperson for Vodafone said: “We have no current plans to change our approach to roaming in the EU.”
O2 has extended its 25GB roaming fair usage data limit (currently in place for customers with unlimited data plans) to other pay monthly customers. It confirmed it had no plans to otherwise change the current roam like at home arrangements.
A spokesperson for O2 said: “Less than 1 per cent 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/GB.”
For more reaction see the next issue of Mobile News Magazine.