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On June 15th 2017 EU rules came into force which banned roaming fees across the EU. It gave mobile phone users the following protections:

  • Users cannot be charged more for mobile services within the EU than in their home state (i.e. ‘roam like at home’ provisions to allow EU use of domestic voice/data bundles as if on domestic soil);
  • Capping EU mobile data roaming charges at €50 after which the user must elect to continue;
  • Advising a user when roamed data use reaches 80% of their data allowance, and then again at 100%.

If the UK agrees some sort of deal with the EU it is anticipated that the current roaming provisions will continue at least to 2020. In the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, Britain will exit the EU regulatory framework which enforced this legislation hence the obligation upon UK networks to provide surcharge-free European roaming will disappear. In fact, it may become uneconomic for UK networks to offer this facility going forward as foreign networks will have the right to increase charges to a ‘non-EU’ UK network.

In anticipation of a hard Brexit the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has issued a memo removing the ‘roam like at home’ obligations but retaining the €50 data cap and 80% usage warning.

In the absence of legislation, the outcome will be determined by market forces as any network who hikes its roaming charges is likely to shed customers. So far only the network Three (and its subsidiary Smarty) has ruled out increased roaming charges after March 29th. The remainder have made no comment or cautiously stated that they “have no plans to change”.

Auditel are experts in a wide range of business costs. If your organisation has a fleet of mobile phones and you want to ensure that you are managing them as cost-effectively as possible please contact us.

Article by: Steven Godfrey