Many carriers said they would not reintroduce roaming charges post-Brexit, but have done so anyway
The post-Brexit blow means new and upgrading customers will have to pay up to £2 per day to use their monthly allowance of data, calls and texts.
The mobile phone network had said that it would not introduce roaming charges in the event of a no-deal Brexit, but has now followed other carriers such as EE.
“We’ve had some good news from businesses, like Vodafone and Three, they’ve publicly said they won’t introduce roaming fees for UK consumers travelling on the continent”, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said at the time.
However, he did not say that ministers would push for an outright ban on the reintroduction of extra costs.
Holidaymakers using Vodafone will be able to reduce the cost to £1 per day by purchasing multi-day pass for eight or 15 days.
Those on the firm’s more expensive Xtra plans will still have roaming included, while Republic of Ireland will be exempt for all customers.
Vodafone said fewer than half of its customers roamed beyond the Republic of Ireland in 2019.
“Rather than have all of our customers affected by including the additional costs of roaming into all of our tariffs, customers will be able to choose a plan that comes with roaming included, or purchase an additional roaming pass,” a spokesperson said.
“Our ambition is to ensure customers don’t ever experience ‘bill shock’ when roaming with Vodafone, because all of our plans and passes will have clear usage caps, and customers will also be able to set their own limits via Vodafone Spend Manager, which is free to set up via the My Vodafone App.”
Those who remain on their existing price plan will not be affected until they make changes.
Paolo Pescatore, an analyst from PP Foresight, said consumers should fully expect others to follow suit.
“Phone users will now need to be savvier when travelling aboard,” he said. “Some will have roaming included on higher priced plans and premium devices, while others will be forced to look at switching to Wi-Fi and take out local e-sim options.”
Roaming fees when travelling across Europe ended in June 2017, allowing consumers to continue using their mobile plan in other EU nations at no additional cost, with a fair use limit.
Under the UK’s Brexit trade agreement, it said both sides should “co-operate on promoting transparent and reasonable rates” for mobile charges but a guarantee on free roaming was not carried forward.
BT-owned EE was the first announce the reintroduction of roaming charges in June.
Ernest Doku, from comparison site Uswitch, had previously said that it was “hugely disappointing” that the situation after Brexit had changed.
“In the aftermath of Brexit, the UK’s biggest mobile providers all said that they had no immediate plans to change their charging models for consumers roaming within the EU. It’s hugely disappointing for consumers to see that situation change so quickly.”
However this is a separate policy to roaming charges, and such limits were an option for carriers before Britain left the union.
Additional reporting by Press Association