UK networks have 'no plans' to bring roaming fees back after Brexit

Why don't I feel terribly reassured?

Seaside selfies from Spain may be a thing of the past if the UK waves buh-bye to Brussels without a Brexit deal.

Brits have delighted in the ability to "Roam Like at Home" thanks to a bunch of EU regulations forcing carriers to allow their customers to call, text and use data without incurring heart-stopping surcharges.

Data usage is also capped at €50 with alerts sent as customers get to 80 and then 100 per cent of the agreed roaming limit.

Things, however, could change after March 2019 if the UK and EU fail to arrange their toys properly in their respective prams and the Brits depart without a deal in place.

In guidelines published on the matter, the UK government has stated that a no-deal Brexit means that surcharge-free roaming would no longer be guaranteed.

The government would pass legislation to ensure that charges remained capped £45 and the usage alerts will remain. It will, however, not legislate to prevent surcharges and instead pointed to the promises of the kindly telco operators that customers aren't about to get gouged.

The Register spoke to the UK's four biggest operators for their thoughts on the matter.

EE told us that it offers "inclusive roaming in Europe and beyond, and we don't have any plans to change these offers" and O2 said it has "no plans to change our roaming services across Europe".

Vodafone were unable to resist reminding us that it was the first UK operator to abolish EU charges and that it had "no plans to introduce these charges" while Three's position remains that it will continue "allowing our customers to continue using their usual allowances when they travel within the EU".

Having no plans to reintroduce charges is, of course, quite different to promising that charges are not going to make a reappearance. After all, UK carriers are no strangers to throttling bandwidth for roaming customers.

The telcos all urge the negotiators to come up with a workable deal. The UK government reckoned that in the "likely" event of a deal, surcharge-free roaming would carry on during the nebulous "Implementation Period" until negotiators work out what a Future Economic Partnership might look like.

In the "unlikely" event of no deal, roaming in the EU may be less of an issue anyway. Doomsday forecasts of blocked borders and grounded aircraft could mean that a few extra pounds on the mobile phone bill for those lucky enough to manage to travel would be the least of the UK's problems. ®




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