New and upgrading Vodafone customers will, from today, incur mobile roaming charges when the network operator reintroduces these charges early next year.
This decision affects UK customers who use their handsets in mainland Europe. This follows a similar announcement, made in June by rival network EE, which said it would also reintroduce roaming charges in 2022.
The decisions mark the U-turns of two of the UK’s biggest network operators. Earlier this year, the UK’s Big Four: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone each said they would not bring back roaming costs after Brexit.
Vodafone’s announcement means new and upgrading customers who use their phones across the European Union will face charges of at least £ 1 a day in the new year.
Pay for the passes
From January 6, 2022, Vodafone users without free roaming in their mobile contract will have the option to pay for daily packages at £ 2 or eight and 15 day packages at £ 8 and 15 respectively.
Also from next year, EE will impose a daily roaming charge of £ 2 to 47 European destinations and territories for new customers who joined the network after July 7. The fees will also apply to existing EE customers who have upgraded their contracts after this date.
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O2 currently allows its customers a 25GB roaming limit and charges £ 3.50 per gigabyte for all data used on top of that. Three customers in Europe can use up to 12 GB of their data allowance at no additional cost.
Karen Egan, senior telecommunications analyst at telecommunications research firm Enders Analysis, called Vodafone’s move “inevitable.” She said rival operator Virgin Media O2, as well as virtual network providers such as Tesco Mobile and Sky, were likely expected to now follow suit by reintroducing roaming charges.
Ahmed Essam, CEO of Vodafone in the UK, defended the move, saying the majority of Vodafone’s customers were not homeless.
He said: “We think it’s fairer to give people more choice over what they pay, either by going for a pricing plan that includes free roaming, or by paying for roaming only when. ‘they are roaming. Otherwise, people who rarely or never go abroad end up paying for something they don’t use.