O2 Denies Reinstating Roaming Charges For Brits In Europe

British mobile operator O2 has denied that roaming charges are returning for Britons whilst they holiday in Europe.

The Independent newspaper reported on Wednesday that O2 “has announced roaming charges for Britons travelling to the EU, in a blow to Boris Johnson’s Brexit celebrations.”

The Independent newspaper’s position on Brexit is well known, and it reported that O2 is bringing back roaming charges for Britons travelling to the EU with £3.50 bill for every gigabyte used over their 25GB allowance.

Roaming changes?

“One of the UK’s biggest mobile phone networks has announced roaming charges for Britons travelling to the EU, in a blow to Boris Johnson’s Brexit celebrations,” wrote the newspaper’s deputy political editor.

The newspaper said that it had seen an email to a customer, where O2 announced “changes to our roaming fair usage policy”, from 2 August 2021.

“As your monthly UK data allowance is over 25GB, you can still use your data in our Europe Zone,” one customer was reportedly told. “But it’s now subject to a Roaming Limit of 25GB. Once you’ve reached this limit you’ll be charged an additional cost of £3.50/GB.”

The newspaper described the move as an “embarrassment to the prime minister, it was announced on the fifth anniversary of the Brexit ‘yes’ vote, as he hailed the result as a spur to improving people’s lives.”

The Independent said that it tried to contact O2 but no one answered the phone.

Fair usage change

However Silicon UK understands that the change O2 has implemented purely relates to the Roaming Limit for data usage that it already has in place for its customers on unlimited data (implemented as part of O2’s Roam Like At Home Fair Usage policy).

Furthermore, Silicon UK understands that O2 has extended this limit (which is 25GB) to other pay monthly customers.

And it is worth noting that less than 1 percent of O2’s Pay Monthly customers reach anywhere near 25GB when they holiday in Europe.

A final point worth noting is that other mobile operators already have a cap for customers who have unlimited and ‘non-unlimited’ data allowances when roaming in the EU.

“Less than 1% of our Pay Monthly customers reach anywhere near 25GB during occasional travel to Europe,” an O2 spokesperson told Silicon UK.

“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,” said the spokesperson.

“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,” the O2 spokesperson said. “A customer can still use data if they reach our Roaming Limit, but will be charged £3.50/GB.”

Government rules

In December last year all four main mobile operators in the UK confirmed that they would not start charging customers to use mobile data in Europe, after the Brexit transition period ended on 1 January 2021.

The government meanwhile has said it has passed legislation to protect holidaymakers, including a £45-a-month limit on any charges for using mobile data abroad before having to opt into further use.

There are also requirements for customers to be informed when they have reached 80 percent and 100 per cent of their data allowance, the Independent reported.

The issue of high mobile roaming charges had been an issue for all British and European mobile users for many years now.

In 2014 the European Union created regulations so that people could use their existing mobile tarriffs whilst aboard.

Those EU regulations finally went into effect in 2017, which meant UK users were able to make use of their mobile phone minutes, texts and data whilst abroad for no extra charge.

And this arrangement is expected to continue going forward.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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