Customers of O2 and Virgin Mobile will continue to benefit from free roaming in Europe, as the newly-merged VMO2 sets itself apart from rivals.
The UK’s three other mobile operators EE, Three, and Vodafone will reintroduce roaming charges in Europe this year, charging travellers a typical £2 per day to use their voice, text, and data allowances across the continent.
Roaming fees across Europe were scrapped for EU residents in June 2017. However, the UK’s exit from the bloc on 31 December 2020 ended that privilege for UK residents.
In its place, the government has urged mobile operators to charge travellers “transparent and reasonable rates” and alert them when their monthly roaming spend nears £45. Customers have to opt in to spend above that sum.
The four mobile networks all said they had “no plans” to reintroduce the charges, but last summer, EE, Three, and Vodafone all reversed that position. Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) didn’t but many suspected it would follow suit.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Gareth Turpin, chief commercial officer of mobile at Virgin Media O2, said maintaining free roaming would save a family of four using their mobiles every day on a two-week European holiday nearly £100.
“With covid still scuppering plans and disrupting day to day routines for so many, we’re starting the year by giving our customers some certainty: we will not be reintroducing roaming fees in Europe," he said.
“Across both O2 and Virgin Mobile we’re maintaining our inclusive roaming so that our customers can travel to destinations all over Europe and use their data, calls and texts just as they would in the UK.”
Meanwhile, customers of EE and Vodafone will get a temporary reprieve from roaming charges as both networks postpone the changes. Vodafone intended to start charging EU roaming fees from 6 January but now says the system needs more testing and will come into force at the end of January instead.
EE also intended to reimpose roaming charges this month but will now do so on 3 March 2022, a delay caused by unspecified technical issues.
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