Three brings back roaming charges in Europe for UK customers
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Mobile network Three has said it will bring back roaming charges for UK customers travelling to Europe, around four years after they were originally scrapped.
The EU banned roaming fees in 2017 for all its member countries as part of an overhaul of Europe’s telecoms market that was designed to boost growth and innovation.
With the UK formally exiting the European Union in January this year, the country’s networks are no longer beholden to EU law.
Three plans to reintroduce the charges from 23 May 2022, after which date its customers will have to pay a charge of £2 per day when roaming within the EU and £5 a day when roaming outside the EU. The new rules only apply to customers who take out new contracts with the firm from 1 October 2021.
“We know that 'Go Roam' has always been important to our customers and we had hoped to retain this benefit, but unfortunately there are now too many unknowns, which has made it commercially unviable for us to continue,” the network said in a statement.
“This includes variations to the underlying cost of roaming, meaning we now have no visibility over the maximum amount it will cost us to provide a service for our customers to use their phone while abroad.
“We are investing billions of pounds in improving our network and infrastructure and already offer some of the most cost-effective deals on the market – implementing a separate roaming fee will enable us to continue to do this.”
Three is not the first network to charge roaming fees once more. EE was the first to bring them back in June this year, followed by Vodafone in August. O2 has not announced a decision on the fees yet, although in June it implemented a 'fair use' data cap of 25GB a month when roaming in Europe.
Three's decision is a particular loss for customers because it not only offered free roaming across Europe, but also other worldwide destinations such as the US and Australia long before EU rules began. The Republic of Ireland and Isle of Man will remain exempt from the fees.
Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com, said the decision was “surprising” given Three’s “generous roaming allowances”.
Doku said: “If you’re an existing Three customer, these charges shouldn’t affect you immediately, but make sure you check the small print if you’re due an upgrade in the coming months.
“When it comes to travelling, don’t leave it until the last minute to check the roaming charges for your destination and use hotel and cafe Wi-Fi when on holiday where possible, but make sure any public access points are safe and secure before logging on.”
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