Free mobile roaming could end in EU if no deal Brexit

The Union Jack and the European flag with a diagonal tear spitting the apart.

The UK may not be able to guarantee surcharge-free mobile roaming if it leaves the EU with no deal. This could mean the return of higher charges to make and receive calls, texts and mobile data usage when travelling in the EU.

According to guidelines published by the UK government, in a no-deal scenario the costs that EU mobile operators would be able to charge UK operators for providing roaming services would no longer be regulated after March 2019.

"This would mean that surcharge-free roaming when you travel to the EU could no longer be guaranteed," the guidelines stated.

But the government said it would legislate to ensure that the requirements on mobile operators to apply a financial limit on mobile data usage while abroad is retained in UK law. This would mean a limit would be set at 45 per monthly billing period, as at present (currently 50 under EU law). There would also be legislation to ensure the alerts at 80% and 100% data usage continues.

It added that leaving without a deal would not prevent UK mobile operators making and honouring commercial arrangements with mobile operators in the EU.

According to the pro-Europe Best for Britain campaign, the re-introduction of roaming charges could cost business people visiting the EU up to 778 a month.

Many of the UK's mobile operators have said that they have no plans to bring back roaming charges after Brexit but did not make any firm promises that charges would never be re-introduced at some point in the future.

Extra charges for phone calls, texts, and data usage on mobile phones was eliminated by the EU in June 2017.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.