Three UK Reinstates European Roaming Charges

Three UK has blamed “too many unknowns” for its decision to controversially reinstate mobile roaming charges in Europe.

In its statement, Three UK said that from 23 May 2022 pay monthly customers who have taken out a new contract or upgraded with Three from 1 October 2021 will pay a charge of £2 per day when roaming within the EU and £5 a day when roaming outside the EU.

This means that Three is now the third British mobile operator to go back on its commitment, when all four main mobile operators (including Three) in December last year said they would not start charging customers to use mobile data in Europe, after the Brexit transition period ended on 1 January 2021.

Roaming charges

But the Brexit deal struck between the UK and the EU contained no provisions that would prevent the big four mobile operators from changing their minds and introducing new roaming charges at a later date.

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

Just days before that, the Independent newspaper had incorrectly claimed O2 had reintroduced roaming charges.

In August Vodafone joined EE in reinstating European roaming charges, justifying it as “fairer way to charge for roaming in Europe”.

And now Three UK has opted to join EE and Vodafone by reinstating European mobile roaming charges.

O2 is now the last remaining of the four main UK operators, not to have reinstated European mobile roaming.

Three statement

Besides reinstating roaming charges for its pay monthly customers, Three UK also said that its pay as you go customers and customers who have taken out a contract before 1 October 2021 are unaffected by these changes.

Customers roaming in the Republic of Ireland are also unaffected.

“We know that Go Roam has always been important to our customers and we had hoped to retain this benefit, but unfortunately there are now too many unknowns, which has made it commercially unviable for us to continue,” said Three UK.

“This includes variations to the underlying cost of roaming, meaning we now have no visibility over the maximum amount it will cost us to provide a service for our customers to use their phone while abroad,” the operator said.

“We want to keep our roaming pricing as simple and affordable for customers as possible, and we think a flat charge of £2 in the EU and £5 outside the EU reflects this,” it said. “It also means only those who roam will pay for the service, rather than customers who stay in the UK also absorbing this cost.”

Three said that it investing billions of pounds to improve its network, and “implementing a separate roaming fee will enable us to continue to do this.”

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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