If you missed the memo, the dreaded EU roaming charges are back. The guarantee, abolished by the European Commission in 2017 and branded as a “market failure”, that your existing telephone, SMS and mobile data volume could be available free of charge when traveling through Europe, was not included in Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal. And despite cellular networks’ assurances that they had no intention of reviving the extra charges, that’s exactly what happened.
EE confirmed this week that from January 2022, some customers will be forced to pay £ 2 a day to use their 4G or 5G data, calls and SMS in Europe. That means your next 14 days in Spain could cost an extra £ 28 for each member of your group. Ouch.
It is crucial that the new EU roaming costs only affect those who join EE after July 7, 2021 or existing users who are taking out a new contract or a SIM-only offer. So, if you’re already with the company and decide to stick with your current plan, you’re good to go without worrying about being charged a penny extra. But as soon as you decide to upgrade to a new smartphone, sign up for a new SIM-only offer for better terms … you have EU roaming charges again.
It is unclear whether customers with older contracts can enjoy unlimited free roaming.
Meanwhile, O2 offers all customers an exemption of 25 GB when traveling in EU countries. Only those who exceed this limit have to worry about roaming charges. But if you need more data, starting August 2021, O2 will charge £ 3.50 for every 1 GB you have used. So if you download a few extra films for the flight home at the end of your vacation at the beach (approx. 8 GB of data), you will find it. £ 28 will be added to your monthly bill.
A one-hour FaceTime video call requires between 2.5 GB and 3 GB of mobile data. So you should make sure to call friends and family when connected to the hotel wifi … and not to your 4G or 5G signal.
And what about those who have contracts with Vodafone, Three or Sky Mobile?
Three will impose an upper limit of 12 GB on all customers roaming in the EU. The company currently has a 20 GB share for those who want to use their 4G and 5G mobile data while traveling across Europe. Three already has a 12GB cap for countries included in its Go Roam Around The World program, which allows customers to continue using their data, calls and SMS abroad – even in countries like the United States, Chile, Singapore, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Peru and more.
Three hasn’t changed the cost of the surcharge, so anyone traveling overseas who exceeds the 12GB share will have to pay 0.3 pence per megabyte, or £ 3 per gigabyte. While this latest change means you may need to monitor your mobile data usage a little more closely than before, it now makes the Go Roam Around The World permit easier to understand as there is a level playing field. And unlike EE, Three offers a pretty generous amount of free data for those visiting Europe. So if you’re just sending a few photos on WhatsApp, updating your Instagram feed, and navigating with Google Maps … you should stay within the 12GB limit.
Vodafone is not currently making any changes to its roaming policy. Like O2, it has a “fair use” rating of 25 GB, which applies to travelers abroad. So you can’t download dozens of 4K movies from iTunes on the beach, but you won’t have any problems making video calls and uploading them to Facebook and downloading an app. Vodafone is one of the few networks with which you can also access super-fast 5G networks abroad.
Just like Vodafone, Sky Mobile is sticking to its guns. Customers with SIM-only or telephone contracts with the company will not be charging any roaming costs in the foreseeable future. In a statement, the mobile operator confirmed: “Sky Mobile customers are not charged any roaming charges in EU countries and they can continue to use their data, call and SMS quotas as in the UK.”