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‘Extortionate’ European roaming fees will probably stay scrapped after Brexit

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The UK is set to leave the EU tomorrow, sparking fears that roaming fees for mobile contracts could return, but networks are trying to reassure customers that this won’t happen.

The government has released a travel advisory notifying UK citizens about how travel within the EU will change once it leaves the bloc, including warnings that roaming fees could return. The leaving process should be completed by 1 January 2021 in theory, allowing British networks to reinstate the charges from that date.

But all four of the major networks have said they have no plans to do so after the extra fees were originally scrapped in 2017.

The process began in 2007 when the EU started steadily lowering the maximum roaming fees that can be charged on a year-by-year basis.

Today travellers can use their mobile contracts the same as they would in their home country, subject to fair-use policies.

“Millions of consumers have become accustomed to using their phone at no extra cost when in Europe and our research shows that many people think this is an important benefit, so a return to extortionate roaming charges after Brexit would be a massive step backwards,” said Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services.

“The current rules of free-roaming within the EU will continue to apply until the end of the transition period, but consumers should remember they must stay within ‘fair use’ limits.

“The government should ensure that our valuable rights to free roaming are protected in any deal on the UK’s future relationship with the EU and look to extend these rights globally as we negotiate trade deals with other countries.”

The UK’s main network providers have all released statements clarifying their position on the matter after Brexit.

EE: “Our customers enjoy inclusive roaming in Europe and we have no plans to change this based on the Brexit outcome.”

Vodafone: “Vodafone has no plans to change our roaming charges because of Brexit.”

O2: “At O2, we are committed to providing our customers with great connectivity and value when they travel outside the UK.

“We currently have no plans to change our roaming services across Europe.

“We will be working closely with the UK government and other European mobile operators to try to maintain the current EU ‘Roam like at home’ arrangements once the UK leaves the EU.”

Three: “Three is the global leader in international roaming and now offers roaming at no extra cost for its customers in over 70 destinations including Brazil, Singapore, the US and Australia.

“We’re committed to eradicating excessive roaming charges and will retain this great customer benefit regardless of Brexit negotiations allowing our customers to continue using their usual allowances when they travel within the EU.”

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