UK.gov urged to ensure punters can 'still roam like at home' after Brexit
Also holibobs disruption from 2019 if aviation deal isn't struck
Consumer charity Which? has called on the UK government to ensure consumers will continue to "roam like at home" while abroad in the European Union after Britain's withdrawal from the bloc.
The EU regulation on roaming came into force in 2017, allowing folk to use their mobile when travelling in the EU and pay domestic prices for roaming calls, SMS and data in line with their package at home.
But Which? warned: "Without an agreement in the negotiations this could end when we leave the EU, leading to consumers paying more to make calls or use data when travelling.
"If the UK transposes the RLAH requirements into UK law, then the government must also reach an agreement that limits wholesale charges for UK operators from mobile companies in the EU, so that customers can continue to use their networks when abroad without extra costs. The amount that they can charge is currently capped at an agreed level across the EU."
Concerns were raised last week when Theresa May confirmed that the UK would be leaving the Digital Single Market – part of the European Commission's strategy of removing roaming charges for people travelling between EU states.
Kester Mann, analyst at CCS Insights, said backtracking would be extremely unpopular and probably only work if operators moved in unison. "Even then, Ofcom may still be within its rights to clamp down if it deemed the move unnecessary."
Vodafone and Three have previously said they would not restore roaming charges, while O2 and EE have said they do not have any plans to change their policy.
However, a spokesman for broadband and mobile comparison site Broadband Genie welcomed the prospect of added consumer protection in this area post Brexit – adding that some operators have been a bit hazy about what their plans are.
Mobile operators had to absorb huge costs when the roaming legislation came into force, with some hiking prices in other non-EU regions to offset the hit. For example, Giffgaff raised prices in tax havens such as the Channel Islands from 0.5p to £1 per minute for phonecalls to Blighty.
In its Consumer Charter for Brexit, Which? also warned of the possibility of flight disruption after Brexit. It called on the government to clarify consumer rights and strike an aviation deal as soon as possible. It cautioned anyone booking a holiday after March 2019 to check cancellation and refund policies. ®