UK carrier EE is introducing roaming charges for customers traveling to almost all EU countries from January next year, BBC News reports. The change applies to any customers who sign up or upgrade their plans after July 7th. From next year, these customers will be charged a flat fee of £2 (around $2.78) a day while in 47 “European destinations,” to get access to their plan’s existing data, minutes, and text allowances. The BT-owned carrier is also selling a 30-day Roam Abroad Pass, which is included with certain plans.
Roaming charges for UK customers visiting mainland Europe used to be commonplace until the European Union outlawed the practice in 2017. However, following the UK’s departure from the EU, which involved a transition period that ended on December 31st 2020, UK carriers no longer have to abide by these rules. The UK’s trade deal with the EU encourages them to have “transparent and reasonable rates” for roaming, according to BBC News, but the charges aren’t specifically prohibited.
The 47 European destinations include EU member states, plus other locations like the Canary Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, and Vatican City. Customers will not be charged an extra fee to use their phones in the Republic of Ireland, EE says.
EE’s decision makes it the first UK carrier to introduce roaming charges post-Brexit. It’s a marked shift from what it told BBC News in January, when it said that its customers “enjoy inclusive roaming in Europe and beyond” and that it didn’t “have any plans to change this based on the Brexit outcome.”
Competitors Three and O2 have also made changes to how much data their customers can use while in Europe, but have stopped short of introducing blanket charges for all usage. O2 is adding a fair use cap of 25GB a month for users in the EU, while Three is reducing its existing cap from 20GB to 12GB, BBC News reports.
In a statement, an EE spokesperson said the charges “will support investment into our UK based customer service and leading UK network.”