Roaming charges are imposed when a mobile phone connects to an operator based abroad. The roaming fees are paid on top of your existing call charges. According to the Minister for the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey, “roughly a million Brits stay the night in Europe every day, and they spend around £350m a year on roaming charges.” Therefore, a significant saving would be passed on to the taxpayer if roaming charges could be scrapped completely, as is currently planned. “By realising these changes, we’re going to save British consumers millions of pounds a year” Vaizey said.
With the vote to leave the EU now firmly set, and it likely that Article 50 will be triggered by parliament, the scrapping of the roaming fees might be put into question. The question on many travellers’ lips now is whether the change in fees will remain, or whether Brexit will have adverse repercussions on phone tariffs. According to Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com: “Mobile users may be concerned that roaming protections put in place by the European Commission may now be undone but whether roaming rates will rise again is a question for the networks.
So, any changes to the current plans to roaming fees will be up to the UK government and individual phone networks to decide upon as the time to leave gets closer. A spokesperson from O2 said: “We can’t predict what may happen in the future. We will continue to offer competitive prices to our customers who use their mobile device when they travel overseas.”
Networks like O2, EE and Asda mobile will now have to work out deals for their consumers outside EU legislation. That said, a spokesperson from EE claimed the network had “no plans to change our pricing as a result of the EU referendum, including our roaming charges.” The same was true at Asda, who offer Asda Mobile pay as you go. Their stance, too, is that consumers will be impacted as little as possible.
Ultimately, then, Brexit might not have the adverse impact on roaming tariffs that consumers believe it will. But we will have to wait a little bit more to see what networks decide.