O2, Virgin Will Not Introduce EU Roaming Charges

Three of the big four mobile operators in the UK have announced plans to reintroduce the roaming fees for their customers travelling to Europe.

Despite all four main mobile operators in December 2020 making a commitment they would not start charging customers to use mobile data in Europe, three of the big four soon  announced they would rejoin the European roaming charge bandwagon.

EE in June 2021 became the first mobile operator to controversially reintroduce mobile roaming charges for new customers in Europe this month.

Roaming charges

Then in August Vodafone also said it joined EE in reinstating European roaming charges, justifying it as “fairer way to charge for roaming in Europe”. Its roaming charges will kick in also in January.

In September Three UK blamed “too many unknowns” for its decision to controversially reinstate mobile roaming charges in Europe, which will begin in May 2022.

Last August the Independent newspaper had incorrectly claimed O2 had reintroduced roaming charges for Brits in Europe.

And now in an update, the joint venture of Virgin and O2 have confirmed they will not introduce mobile roaming charges this year for UK customers in the EU, despite other operators announcing an extra fee.

O2 and Virgin Mobile said they will maintain their inclusive roaming in the EU region, so their customers can travel and use their data, calls and texts just as they would in the UK.

“We’re starting the year by giving our customers some certainty: we will not be reintroducing roaming fees in Europe for customers on O2 or Virgin Mobile,” Virgin Media O2’s Gareth Turpin was quoted as saying by Sky News.

“Unlike all the other major mobile networks who are bringing back roaming fees, we will not be following suit,” Turpin reportedly said. “With many Brits now looking to plan a trip abroad, we’ve got our customers covered and extra roaming charges will be one less thing to worry about.”

Mobile roaming

Prior to 2017, high mobile roaming charges had been an issue for years with British mobile users holidaying aboard.

But in 2014 the European Union created regulations so that people could use their existing mobile tariffs 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.

The Brexit agreement saw EE, O2, Vodafone and Three make a commitment that they had no plans to reinstate roaming charges.

But months later EE, Vodafone and Three opted to reinstate roaming charges.

EE customers who joined or upgraded after 7 July 2021 now face a £2 daily charge for using their data, making calls, or sending text messages in EU countries.

Vodafone customers who joined after 11 August 2021, or upgraded or renewed their contract, face the same charge.

Three will introduce the £2 daily charge on 23 May, for customers who joined the network or upgraded after 1 October 2021.

There are some alternative plans for those EE or Vodafone users however.

EE customers who want to avoid the full roaming charge can buy a 30-day Roam Abroad Pass for £10, while Vodafone users can pay £1 a day for an eight or 15-day multipass.

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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