One of the unfortunate implications of the UK’s departure from the EU has been the country’s mobile operators once again receiving the green light to charge roaming fees for customers travelling abroad in the bloc. However, not all of these operators have reintroduced the charges.
This is why, if you are UK-based but regularly travel in the EU or intend to start doing so, you should think carefully about which of these mobile carriers you ought to use.
What is data roaming?
The terms ‘data roaming’ and ‘roaming’ often refer to how, when you are using mobile data services outside of the country where you originally sourced them, your device searches for an alternative, local cellular network to which it could connect.
Once it does find and connect to one, you will be able to get online again – and so use all of your device’s usual internet-reliant functions, such as emailing, making video calls and streaming.
Usually, roaming incurs an additional fee – but, in 2017, the EU’s Roam Like at Home initiative banned mobile networks in EU member states from charging this fee to customers roaming anywhere within the bloc’s geographic boundaries.
However, with the UK no longer officially an EU member state, UK mobile operators have been given free rein to reintroduce roaming charges. Not quite all of these companies have actually done so, however – or at least not yet…
Where are roaming charges now in place?
Unfortunately, you could find yourself having to make an unenviable trade-off with your choice of carrier – as many of those that have resisted bringing back roaming charges tend to fare relatively poorly for customer satisfaction.
The situation is, however, a little more complex than this – as even these companies could offer quite a few perks that genuinely draw your eye. Hence, Expert Reviews has drawn up an in-depth guide to how various UK mobile carriers shape up in the wake of Brexit.
To put a long story short, Sky Mobile, Giffgaff, iD Mobile and Tesco Mobile are still not imposing EU roaming charges, whereas EE, Three and Vodafone have brought them back. However, if you are already with any of the latter three firms, you might remain exempt from roaming charges for the rest of your existing contract.
So, if you won’t be invited to renew that contract for a while yet but you do need a new phone, you could buy an unlocked one – such as one of the refurbished Sony mobile phones available from OnBuy – and then insert your existing SIM card into the new device.
Meanwhile, Virgin Media O2 is currently the UK’s only major mobile operator pledging to retain free roaming for its customers travelling within the EU. In words quoted by Mobile World Live, CCS Insight director Kester Mann said that Virgin Media O2 had “blown the roaming door wide open”.
He said that the company’s “decision to hold firm will raise eyebrows across the sector and is a blow to rivals”, adding that Three could be hit the hardest.