EE to reintroduce European roaming charges

EE high street shop entrance with shoppers passing by
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Mobile operator EE has announced it will charge new customers to use their data allowance in Europe from January, making it the first UK operator to reintroduce roaming fees across the EU following Brexit.

Customers that join or upgrade from July 7 2021 will be charged £2 per day to use their allowances in 47 European destinations from January 2022. However, customers will not be charged to use their data in the Republic of Ireland.

An EE spokesperson told IT Pro that the charge will “support investment into our UK based customer service and leading UK network".

Customers who travel abroad will be charged the new flat rate to use their plan allowance, however, customers can also purchase a 30-day Roam Abroad Pass. This pass will cost £10 for Essential plan customers, while Smart or Full Works plan customers can include it as part of their plan.

This makes EE the first UK operator to reintroduce the charge following the Brexit trade deal signed at the end of 2020.

Current EU regulations, which no longer apply to the UK, prevent mobile phone operators from charging customers extra to use their phones in other EU countries. Introduced in June 2017, these rules covered UK customers travelling across Europe, until the UK left the EU.

Although UK network operators said they planned not to bring back roaming charges after Brexit, no company has yet made firm commitments that charges would never be re-introduced at some point in the future.

Other UK networks are currently making changes to their roaming limits in the EU area.

A Three UK spokesperson told IT Pro that the company is making changes to its Go Roam policy in the EU to bring it in line with their Go Roam Around the World fair use policy.

"This means from July 1 our fair use limit for data while in the EU will reduce from 20GB per month to 12GB. The new fair use limit is still more than enough for holidaymakers to use their phone like they would if they were in the UK. There is no change to our surcharge, so data usage over 12GB (up to the customer’s allowance), will remain subject to a small fee of 0.3p per MB," said the spokesperson.


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Meanwhile, an O2 spokesperson told IT Pro that less than 1% of their Pay Monthly customers reach anywhere near 25GB during occasional travel to Europe.

“If a customer’s UK monthly data allowance is over 25GB, from August 2 they will have a Roaming Limit of 25GB when roaming in our Europe Zone. This means they can use up to 25GB of their allowance at no extra cost – we’ll text them if they get close to the limit, and again if they reach it. A customer can still use data if they reach our Roaming Limit, but will be charged £3.50/GB," said the spokesperson.

IT Pro has contacted Vodafone to see if it has plans to reintroduce roaming fees.

EE continued to be the top-performing UK mobile network operator, with a 43.0 Mbits/sec 4G median download speed being the fastest nationwide, according to RootMetrics. The BT-owned operator’s 4G median download speed was twice as fast as Vodafone’s, which was ranked second at 21.1 Mbits/sec. They were followed by Three and O2 who ranked 13.9 and 12.9 Mbits/sec respectively.

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.