In June 2016 EU Roaming Regulations stipulated that there would be no higher charge than domestic charges when roaming across Europe in EU countries. This was a major step forward for regular travellers often hit by excessive mobile roaming costs.
So, will this remain post-Brexit?
If the UK were to decide either to remain an EU member state, or to become an EEA member state (like Norway), roaming arrangements with the EU would continue as they are today. In all other scenarios, EU roaming arrangements will cease to apply to UK mobile customers the moment that Brexit takes effect.
That would mean that those with UK subscriptions would tend to pay substantially more than they do today when roaming in the EU, and those with EU subscriptions would tend to pay substantially more than they do today when roaming in the UK.
The Great Repeal Bill could control retail prices within the UK, but it cannot dictate the wholesale charges that EU network operators levy on UK network operators for UK subscribers who roam in the EU. Current retail prices for roaming cannot be sustained if wholesale costs are allowed to run wild.
A free trade agreement entered into as part of the Article 50 process could avoid this problem if low wholesale prices are negotiated as part of post-Brexit UK. This is a complicated space; however, assuming good will on all sides, it should be possible for the EU and the UK to craft mutually beneficial reciprocal international mobile roaming arrangements post-Brexit.
In the meantime, enjoy the ‘Roam Like at Home’ (RLAH) but what does it mean for you?
Depending on what network you are on will determine where you can roam like at home and here is a little insight on the strategy adopted by each network.
• Vodafone has dropped its roaming charges in 40 countries in its Euro-Traveller zone, including Iceland, Turkey and Switzerland on 11 June. Along with most other providers, you’ll still pay to roam in Serbia and Montenegro.
• O2’s roaming-free Europe Zone will cover 47 countries for pay-monthly customers – but excludes Turkey. Oddly, it’s PAYG customers will continue to pay roaming charges in Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Monaco and Switzerland, but contract customers roaming will be free.
• EE’s deal is almost identical to O2’s, except PAYG customers aren’t penalised. EE has said customers will only be able to use the first 15GB of their data ¬allowance in the EU for free under “fair use” rules.
• Three, which has led the way on roaming charges, now offers free roaming to 60 destinations including most of Europe, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the US. Turkey, however, is not included. (After two months in one country free roaming is suspended, warns its T&Cs.)
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