Vodafone has become the second mobile operator to reintroduce roaming charges for British users travelling in Europe despite previously pledging not to do so.
From January 2022, Vodafone subscribers will face a surcharge of £2 per day to use their call, text and data allowances in European destinations. Those staying longer can save with 8- and 15-day bundles, priced at £1 per day.
The changes will affect all customers who sign up with Vodafone or upgrade from tomorrow, 11 August. However, the charges won’t be applied until January 2022.
The announcement will be unwelcome news for British holidaymakers and business travellers, who have grown accustomed to free mobile roaming across the bloc, extended to all EU citizens in 2017.
The UK’s exit from the European Union on 31 December 2020 deprived UK consumers of this privilege. In its place is the government’s call on mobile operators to set “transparent and reasonable" roaming rates and a set of loose safeguards, including text alerts when users near a £45 monthly cap on EU charges and the need to opt-in for any additional spending.
At the time, the UK’s four main mobile providers assured customers they wouldn’t reimpose roaming charges. Vodafone repeated those assurances as recently as June, when EE became the first to renege on the promise. Vodafone said it “no current plans to change our approach to roaming in the EU.” Now just six weeks later, it’s reversed that position.
A spokesperson for the network said this week: “Existing customers will not be impacted by these changes while they remain on their current price plan, and roaming in the Republic of Ireland will still be included for all customers.”
Meanwhile, from January EE will charge travellers £2 per day to use their phones in 47 European destinations.
Earlier this month, O2 capped previously unlimited mobile data in Europe at 25GB per month. This policy drew headlines announcing O2 was reintroducing mobile roaming charges. This isn’t technically correct. Fair use data limits were always permitted under the EU's “Roam Like at Home” legislation. The cap will also only affect the fraction of customers whose UK allowances are higher than 25GB.
Three, which always had a 20GB “fair use” cap on mobile data in Europe, recently trimmed this allowance to 12GB per month.
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