Roaming charges could make an unwelcome return in the wake of a no deal Brexit, with the European Union confirming that rules governing the cost of using smartphones while travelling will not apply in the UK.
In new guidance, the EU said, “Companies providing mobile communications services, such as voice calls, text messages or data will no longer be bound by EU roaming rules when operating in the UK.
“This means these companies may apply surcharges to UK customers using roaming services in the EU and to EU citizens using roaming services in the UK.”
Earlier this year, the UK government said that networks would not have to offer free roaming within the EU in the event of no deal being struck.
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The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 22nd May if Parliament passes the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement. However, if it fails to do so, the UK could potentially leave with no deal on 12th April.
That means travellers in the EU could soon face punitive charges for making calls, sending texts and using data. That scenario can be avoided by the passage of the Withdrawal Agreement or alternative arrangements being struck.
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Networks, however, appear reticent to start charging roaming fees. The EU abolished the charges in June 2017 and the ability to use smartphones while in the union without paying extra has proved massively popular.
Three has already said it will not charge its customers for using their phones while in the EU.
If charges are brought back into force, networks may opt to offer flat fee access to networks, much as they do for travel in many non–EU destinations.
But with roaming now seen as an essential part of most smartphone contracts, carriers will doubtless want to keep consumers on side and decide against additional charges.