Roaming charges have long been a necessary evil for most mobile users when travelling abroad. Usually, avoiding them is a matter of turning off your data roaming and sticking to (potentially dodgy) public WiFi hotspots. But thankfully, this is all about to change.
Roaming charges will be abolished from 15th June (this Thursday) within the EU, meaning UK travellers won’t be charged extra for calls, texts and using data. Instead, they’ll come out of your regular allowance, the BBC reported.
No more near-death experiences upon opening your phone bill after a lovely break, and just in time for summer. Hallelujah!
More than nine million UK mobile users experienced “bill shock” after holidaying in the EU last year, according to research by uSwitch, so the new “Roam Like Home” legislation is bound to be widely welcomed.
The aim of the EU ban is to prevent travellers from receiving huge bills after downloading films or using large amounts of data in other ways while travelling.
However, mobile users are still likely to be charged for exceeding their allowance, and the amount will vary by provider, according to consumer watchdog Which?.
Different providers also include different countries in their roaming territories, so roaming charges may still apply in countries such as Switzerland and Andorra, and areas like the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, which aren’t members of the EU or European Economic Area (EEA). Vodafone is reportedly the only network to include non-EU Turkey in its roaming bundle.
The countries included may also vary with the same provider, depending on whether you’re a pay-monthly or pay-as-you-go customer. The regulations don't apply to calls made from the UK to the EU, either.
Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, recommended "[taking] a close look at what is or isn't included in your current mobile deal".
Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether British travellers will still be eligible for this perk post-Brexit, although it's thought the ban will remain in place for at least two years. A leaked analysis earlier this year suggested we wouldn’t continue to be eligible, but mobile phone companies have suggested that we might.
Vittorio Colao, chief executive of Vodafone, said in February that Brits most likely wouldn't be lumbered with steep charges after Brexit. “We treat Switzerland, which is not part of the EU, as part of it so why would we not treat the UK that way?” he said.
Meanwhile, Ernest Doku, mobiles spokesman at uSwitch.com, said the re-introduction of roaming charges to UK travellers would be "a bitter pill for consumers to swallow". Too right. "For those providers looking to step up and stand out, they'd do well to look at how free EU roaming could be maintained," he added. Hear, hear!