EE First Operator To Reinstate European Roaming Charge

BT’s mobile operator EE has controversially become the first UK mobile operator to reintroduce mobile roaming charges for new customers in Europe.

Earlier this week the Independent newspaper claimed that O2 had reintroduced roaming charges – a claim that O2 has denied.

O2 told Silicon UK that it would only charge its unlimited customers £3.50 for every gigabyte used over their 25GB allowance, as part of its fair usage policy. This is inline with other operators and it added that “less than 1 percent of our Pay Monthly customers reach anywhere near 25GB during occasional travel to Europe.”

Roaming pledge

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

That confirmation of no roaming charges applied to both pay monthly customers, SIM-only customers, and pay-as-you-go contracts.

But the Brexit deal struck by Prime Minister Boris Johnson contained no provisions that would prevent the big four mobile operators from changing their minds and introducing new roaming charges at a later date.

Yet the big four UK operators (in December at least) seemed to have no plans to start charging roaming rates again.

“Our customers enjoy inclusive roaming in Europe and beyond, and we don’t have any plans to change this based on the Brexit outcome,” an EE spokesperson was quoted as saying in December. “So our customers travelling to the EU will continue to benefit from inclusive roaming.”

Flat fee

But six months later this has changed, with the confirmation that EE will now charge new customers a flat fee of £2 a day to use their mobile plan in Europe.

“From January next year, EE will introduce a new flat fee of £2 a day for customers wishing to roam across 47 European destinations (with the exception of ROI which is included in domestic plans), allowing them to use their plan’s full data, minutes and texts allowance,” an EE spokesperson told Silicon UK via email.

“This will apply only to new and upgrading customers signing up to EE from the 7th July 2021 and will support investment into our UK based customer service and leading UK network,” the EE spokesperson added.

“Customers travelling abroad for longer will be able to use a 30-day Roam Abroad Pass,” said the spokesperson. “Essential plan customers will be able to take the Pass for £10, while Smart or Full Works plans customers are able to include the same pass as part of their plan.”

EE said the changes will be made to contracts for new and upgrading customers from 7th July, but the new roaming charge will only be applied to those travelling in relevant countries from January 2022.

The EE’s flat fee offers access to customer’s full data allowance, texts and minutes, with no hidden charges.

The full list of countries affected is as follows: Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus*, Czech Republic, Canary Islands, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana Guyana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal (including Madeira), Reunion Islands, Romania, San Marino, Saint Martin (French), Saint Barthelemy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (including Canary Islands), Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City (Italy).

When Silicon UK challenged EE on this apparent u-turn after its December pledge, the operator just pointed to its statement that “this will apply only to new and upgrading customers signing up to EE from the 7th July 2021 and will support investment into our UK based customer service and leading UK network.”

It remains to be seen whether other UK operators will follow EE’s lead.

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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