No guarantee about cost of data roaming charges in no deal Brexit scenario

Data roaming charges after Brexit
Data roaming charges after Brexit

Cheap data roaming could be at risk if the UK leaves the EU without a deal at the end of next month.

At the minute, travellers can use their mobile phones in the EU with what is called guaranteed surcharge-free roaming - which basically means means you can use your mobile devices to make calls, send texts and use mobile data services for no more than you would be charged when in the UK.

Mobile operators must limit mobile data usage to €50 a month and send alerts once the user reaches 80% and then 100% of the agreed data roaming limit. Known as Roam Like at Home, the EU Roaming Regulation also regulates what mobile operators can charge each other for providing roaming services and extends to Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

If we leave the EU without a deal, the costs that EU mobile operators would be able to charge UK operators for providing roaming services would no longer be regulated. This would mean that surcharge-free roaming when you travel to the EU could no longer be guaranteed.

Some of the larger mobile operators, including 3, EE, O2 and Vodafone, have said they have no current plans to change their approach to mobile roaming after the UK leaves the EU, although there's nothing to guarantee this stance won't change.

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The government is working on retaining a top financial limit of £45 per month and ensuring the data usage alerts remain at 80 and 100 per cent.

Consumers should check the roaming policies of their mobile operator before they go abroad, check the terms and conditions in details, use wi-fi where it is available and know how to turn off their mobile data roaming if they’re worried about being charged for data usage in the EU.

Consumers and businesses in border areas of Northern Ireland should also be aware of the issue of ‘inadvertent roaming’. This is when a mobile signal in a border region is stronger from the country across the border.

To help address this issue, the government intends to retain a rule that operators must make information available to their customers on how to avoid inadvertent roaming in border regions and take reasonable steps to protect their customers from paying roaming charges for inadvertently accessed roaming services.