On 31 January, the UK is scheduled to leave the EU and as such, many are left wondering about how things might change.
Something that many may not have considered is using your mobile phone abroad, and how the cost for data roaming could change post-Brexit – here’s everything you need to know.
The current situation
As it stands, with the UK still within the EU, you can travel in the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries with guaranteed surcharge-free mobile roaming.
That means you can use your mobile device as you usually would – to make calls, send text and use your mobile data services – without being charged more than you would in the UK.
What will happen in the event of a deal?
The UK government website states, “In the event of a deal, surcharge-free roaming would continue to be guaranteed during the Implementation Period.
“During the Implementation Period the arrangements for roaming, including surcharges, would depend on the outcome of the negotiations on the Future Economic Partnership.”
What happens if there’s no deal?
In the event of a no deal Brexit, surcharge free roaming in the EU and EEA countries will no longer be guaranteed.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you should check the roaming policies of your individual network provider before going abroad. If your provider has not changed its policy, you should continue to enjoy surcharge-free roaming within the EU.
In order to protect consumers from large, unexpected charges, the government has set a limit of £45 per monthly billing period. This means that consumers can’t continue to use mobile data services whilst roaming unless they actively choose to do so.
The government has also legislated to ensure that consumers are aware of their data usage by receiving alerts when they are at 80 per cent and 100 per cent of their data usage limit.
What mobile networks have said
It will be down to each individual network to decide how they wish to proceed – just because they potentially could be allowed to reintroduce roaming charges doesn’t mean that they will.
EE states on its website, “Our customers enjoy inclusive roaming in Europe, and we don’t have any plans to change this based on the Brexit outcome.”
O2 has also said, “We currently have no plans to change our roaming services across Europe. We will be working closely with the UK government and other European mobile operators to try to maintain the current EU ‘Roam like at home’ arrangements once the UK leaves the EU.”
Three has said its “free” roaming will remain, regardless of Brexit negotiations, meaning customers will be able to use their usual allowances when travelling within the EU.
Vodafone also has no plans to introduce charges, “We very much hope arrangements can be made which will ensure we can continue to offer UK consumers our roam-free service.”
Can I switch networks if they introduce roaming surcharges?
If your mobile operator is proposing to introduce surcharges for roaming post-Brexit, you might be considering changing networks – but what if you’re caught in a contract?
Ofcom, the UK government-approved regulatory and competition authority, allows the cancellation of your contract free-of-charge if your operator makes certain price increases.
The government also offers the following advice when travelling abroad with your mobile device:
- Be conscious to turn off your mobile data roaming on your mobile device if you’re concerned about being charged for your data usage in the EU
- Ensure that you know the alternatives you using your data when abroad, such as available Wi-Fi
- Understand what mobile services are going to be costly – for example, streaming live TV or sending large files from your device can be expensive as they use a lot of data