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Vodafone has become the second big operator to announce the re-introduction of roaming charges in Europe for new and upgrading customers from January 2022.
New, Upgrading, or Changing After 11 August 2021
New customers of the network, those upgrading, and those changing their call plans after 11 August will qualify for the new daily charges for roaming in Europe. There will be no roaming charges for any Vodafone customers travelling to the Republic of Ireland.
Depending on tariff, the charges will be £1 per day, with roaming passes for Vodafone’s Europe Zone priced at £8 for 8 days, £15 for 15 days, or £2 for just a single day pass. Those with Unlimited or Limited Data Xtra plans won’t be charged.
Despite mobile operators originally saying, prior to Brexit, that they had no plans to re-introduce roaming charges, the Brexit trade deal from December 2020 gave UK mobile operators the ability to start charging again for roaming because, although the deal encouraged transparency reasonable rates, it didn’t impose a total ban on roaming charges.
What Are Roaming Charges?
Mobile operators apply roaming charges as a way of covering the costs of a mobile phone being used outside the range of its home network and connecting to another available ‘visitor’ network. Mobile operators have legal roaming agreements with other roaming networks that cover aspects like authentication, authorisation, and billing.
Half of Vodafone Customers Don’t Roam Beyond IRE
In the case of Vodafone, it says that roaming is a service that costs the company money, and that including it in every plan while fewer than half of its customers roamed further than the Republic of Ireland in 2019, means that half the customers are paying for something they don’t use anyway and are, therefore, paying for someone else’s roaming.
EE The First
UK operators have been allowed to introduce the charges since January 2021. However, they chose not to do so until recently, when EE broke ranks and started to charge. In June, EE became the first mobile operator that announced that for those who took out a pay monthly handset or SIM plan (from 7 July onwards), there would be a daily charge for using their mobile phone in what it defined as the “European roaming zone”. However, EE said the new roaming charges wouldn’t apply until January 2022.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The December Brexit deal gave the go-ahead for mobile operators to re-introduce roaming charges, probably because it simply encouraged operators to be transparent and reasonable with their rates rather than actually forcing them to, thereby leaving the door open for them to make a commercial decision. The fact that it currently only affects new and upgrading customers after a certain date and that the charges don’t come into force until next year has enabled EE and now Vodafone to soften the blow and limit the potential for negative publicity. After EE announced its re-introduction of roaming charges, Vodafone, Three and O2 said they ‘no plans’ to re-introduce the charges, so now that Vodafone appears to have changed its mind it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect that the others may follow.