UK consumers face threat of smartphone roaming charges post-Brexit

19th Sep 2018

British people travelling abroad face the threat of roaming charges and higher costs in the event of a “no deal” Brexit.

European regulations forced mobile phone operators to scrap roaming charges for travellers in June 2017, but a no deal scenario means that EU mobile operators would be able to charge UK operators for providing roaming services, as these would no longer be regulated. 

The Government has produced its own document on what would happen in the event of a “no deal” Brexit, which outlines that “surcharge-free roaming when you travel to the EU could no longer be guaranteed”, although the document does stress that this would be an unlikely scenario. 

The document does however promise to introduce a monthly cap of £45 on roaming charges: “However, the government would legislate to ensure that the requirements on mobile operators to apply a financial limit on mobile data usage while abroad is retained in UK law. The limit would be set at £45 per monthly billing period, as at present (currently €50 under EU law).” 

Such a cap would put UK firms at a disadvantage, given that that their EU counterparts would be free to charge whatever they like every time UK customers use phones abroad. 

A number of mobile operators, including EE, 3, O2 and Vodafone have publicly said that they have no current plans to change their approach to mobile roaming charges after the UK leaves the EU. 

Phone roaming charges abroad cost British customers around £350 million per year before they were abolished last year.

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