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EE and Vodafone to bring back EU data roaming charges from January 2022

British holidaymakers will be faced with the return of mobile data roaming charges when travelling through Europe in the new year.

Networks EE and Vodafone are reintroducing roaming charges for their customers from 1 January and 6 January respectively following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

While fourth-largest network Three is planning to charge its customers to use their data in Europe from May, O2, the UK’s largest mobile network, will continue to allow some of its customers free roaming in the EU, but only as an add-on within some of its “Plus Plans”.

How soon customers have to pay the extra charges – which will cost £2 a day for customers to access the data and mobile minutes they already pay for – will depend on how recently they signed their existing contract.

For example, EE customers who joined or upgraded their contract before July 2021 will be unaffected, as will people with Vodafone contracts started before August 2021, and Three customers from before September 2021.

UK mobile networks had been forbidden from charging UK customers roaming fees since 2017 under EU law, but are resuming doing so following the Brexit deal.

The deal, signed between the UK and the EU, appeared to anticipate a return of fees and called on mobile operators to offer “transparent and reasonable” roaming rates.

The majority of UK citizens are currently restricted from travelling in France and Germany in a bid to control the spread of Covid-19, and many other European countries have lockdown restrictions currently preventing visitors from the UK until later in 2022.

Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at price comparison site, recommended that consumers check how recently they’d opened or amended their contracts before travelling in Europe to avoid incurring unexpected charges.

“Many mobile users who are travelling to Europe in 2022 will have to endure the added cost of roaming charges, with EE and Vodafone reintroducing their fees from January,” he said.

“When it comes to travelling, don’t leave it until the last minute to check the roaming charges for your destination, and use hotel and cafe wi-fi when on holiday where possible, ensuring any public access points are safe and secure before logging on.”

Meanwhile, the EU has extended its free data roaming scheme for another 10 years. Following a recent agreement by member states, European Union citizens living in EU countries will be allowed free data roaming until 2032. Boštjan Koritnik, Slovenia’s minister for public administration, hailed the scheme as “one of the greatest success stories of the digital single market”.

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