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Vodafone follows EE in bringing back mobile roaming charges in Europe

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Vodafone has followed EE and become the second UK mobile phone company to bring back roaming charges in Europe.

We covered EE’s introduction of roaming charges here.

From 6th January, Vodafone will charge to use your existing minutes and data allowance in Europe.

Vodafone introduces EU roaming charges

The changes are outlined on the Vodafone website here in a press release euphemistically entitled ‘a fairer way to charge for roaming in Europe’.

The charges will be:

  • £2 per day (the same as EE charges)
  • £8 for an 8-day bundle
  • £15 for a 15-day bundle

Data will be capped at 25GB per month for those on unlimited data plans, which will make it harder to do very lengthy streaming sessions whilst away.

If you are currently under contract with Vodafone, the charge will not begin until your contract is renewed. Some of Vodafone’s more expensive monthly ‘Xtra’ packages will include European roaming, in the same way that they currently including roaming in countries such as the US.

The new rules will come into effect on 6th January for all Vodafone contracts, new or upgraded, agreed from 11th August. This gives you a couple of days to upgrade your plan if you wish.

O2 has said that it has no plans to reintroduce roaming charges but is introducing a ‘fair use’ cap of 25GB per month in the EU, with additional charges for any usage above this level.

Under the Brexit trade agreement, it was stated that the UK and EU would “co-operate on promoting transparent and reasonable rates” for mobile charges but no guarantees were made on roaming charges. At the time, the four major UK mobile networks said that they had no intention to introduce roaming charges which may have influenced the Government in deciding not to push for including it in law.

Rhys did a full comparison of the roaming packages offered by the major networks in this article, although the Vodafone information is now out of date following this announcement.

You can read more on the Vodafone website here. The detailed pricing data is here.

Comments (250)

  • Tim says:

    Missed opportunity here for the U.K. government on several levels. All they had to do was say ‘any mobile operators that want to maintain their licence to operate in the U.K. need to offer roaming in EU/EFTA’, and could even boost it by adding UK Crown Dependencies and overseas territories. Adding U.S., Australia etc would create extra brownie points too. Pretty simple really. Not just a missed opportunity but an own goal as it fires up the typical ‘Brexit keeps on giving’ nonsense.

    • will says:

      Totally agree and highlights not only the lack of leadership we suffer under but also the fact that we have been governed in reaction and not in control for a very long time now.

      • Callum says:

        Given there’s no logical reason for the UK government to abolish EU roaming rates that I can think of, I hardly see how this is evidence of a “lack of leadership”?

        • Tim says:

          I just think it is an out of touch thing that has been disturbed by Covid, which is quite ironic for an allegedly populist government. Hopefully in a good few years we’ll have a decent government that is challenged by a decent opposition. And we’ll all be better off as a consequence.

        • Tim says:

          It is a lack of leadership because the political bit of ‘no EU roaming’ could easily have been avoided. But it hasn’t been. The real rub is that the current future alternatives to the current government don’t have a clue either. And more than likely would have done nothing different if they had been in place now anyway. So: lack of leadership all round.

          • Callum says:

            Again, on what basis does it make any sense for the UK government to be doing that? I’d hardly call caving in to the irrational demands from a vocal minority on a travel blog to be a sign of leadership!

      • JDB says:

        Under what powers are you suggesting the government could have altered the terms of the existing mobile licences? Apart from the fact that it wouldn’t be lawful /acceptable to interfere in the market in this manner so the companies would challenge any such decision, it would almost certainly cause domestic prices to rise.

    • NFH says:

      There are two sides to EU roaming regulations:
      A. Regulation of wholesale roaming prices charged by visited networks to consumers’ home networks.
      B. Regulation of retail roaming prices charged by home networks to consumers.

      A is a prerequsite for B, because the wholesale price needs to be lower than the retail price. B no longer applies to EEA visited networks where the consumer’s home network is in the UK. How are you suggesting that the UK can regulate B in other countries? Without regulating B, how are you suggesting that the UK can regulate A?

    • Track says:

      Yep, we seem to claim go and be Global Britain.

  • Den says:

    Wow this thread was amazing! UK culture was in full flight!

  • Track says:

    Luckily we live in the time of wifi and Skype.

    I remember those roaming bills going abroad in early 2000es/first decade. You be lucky not to have a bill of 80-100 quid after a holiday in Europe.

    Had to keep phone completely shut to avoid charges.

    • Rob says:

      I remember running up a £200 bill at Paris Le Grand on the in-room phone pre-mobiles (work paid). This would have been 2000-ish so over £300 in 2021 money.

      • Tim says:

        I remember racking up a £250 bill on data charges in a hotel in New Zealand about that time. A substantial amount of it, I’m not ashamed to admit, being porn. ‘That can’t possibly be right!!’ I exclaimed when checking out. At which point the lovely lady checking me out proceeded to print out every website I had visited and the amount of data used. Lesson learned. Although we did meet up later that day 🙂

  • Max says:

    The Telecommunications sector is severely limited in competition (small number of very expensive licenses) and dominated by big multinationals such as Vodafone.

    These network operators are massively benefiting from globalization. Customers should have the right to benefit equally: They should get free roaming in all overseas markets where their carrier is also operating.
    E.g. Vodafone customers should have the right to get free roaming with Vodafone Germany, Vodafone India, …

    • JDB says:

      If you have the misfortune to hold Vodafone shares, you would quickly see that they haven’t been “massively benefiting from globalization” it’s a real mess. I’m not sure where this misconception comes from, but it is a popular one.

      • Tim says:

        Owning the firm has nothing to do with how firms operate. There is already a level playing field in the U.K. with regards to regulation and tax – the latter favouring multinationals anyway, but as all the incumbents are multinational, and as making a phone call is something that can be originated at a destination (tax wise), there is little domestic/multinational lack of fair play. Thereby simply imposing a simpler rule domestically: any mobile firm that wants a licence to operate in the U.K. needs to offer a set level of roaming in the EU/EFTA/other places in the world is entirely feasible. And the reason the government have missed a trick politically is because they have not seen this coming and enacted prior to it coming.

        • NFH says:

          Tim, it is not true that “any mobile firm that wants a licence to operate in the U.K. needs to offer a set level of roaming in the EU/EFTA/other places in the world is entirely feasible“.

          There are two sides to EU roaming regulations:
          A. Regulation of wholesale roaming prices charged by visited EEA networks to consumers’ home networks.
          B. Regulation of retail roaming prices charged by home networks to consumers.

          A is a prerequsite for B, because the wholesale price needs to be lower than the retail price. B no longer applies to EEA visited networks where the consumer’s home network is in the UK. How are you suggesting that the UK can regulate B in other countries? Without regulating B, how are you suggesting that the UK can regulate A?

          • Tim says:

            NFH: because the network costs of roaming are not the same as they were 20 years ago. And because politics trumps economics. In this case, yes, you could argue that U.K. customers that don’t roam might pay a higher monthly cost paying for all those that do roam, (I’d wager 10p per month more collectively if that), but politically a much higher cost and a political own goal that could have been turned into an opportunity.

          • NFH says:

            Tim, this doesn’t add up. Look at the Baltic states for example, where mobile networks are exempt from complying with EU roaming regulations because their retail prices are lower than visited EEA networks’ wholesale costs. You can’t impose a retail price cap without a wholesale price cap. And a domestic government has no jurisdiction of visited networks’ wholesale charges.

          • Tim says:

            NFH: yes – but you’re thinking like an economist. ‘If we were part of the EU bloc then wholesale costs would be lower’. But in this instance, wholesale costs are now so low, that it is minimal, and the major mobile operators that have instigated the charge all have multinational operations. Look at Three/Hutchison for example, which offers complimentary roaming beyond EU. Not stopping the four big operators act as a monopoly, especially on a visible benefit of being in the EU, by a government elected on the basis that not being in the EU is better than being in the EU, is poor political judgment.

          • NFH says:

            Tim, I still don’t see how you’re expecting the government to legislate to require UK networks to operate a service component at a loss, whereby the wholesale cost is higher than the retail price. The only way to do this is to regulate the wholesale cost as well, which is what the EU does, but which the UK foolishly chose to abandon.

        • Tim says:

          Just to double down on that last comment: a major easily visible benefit of EU membership for the people of the U.K was ‘free’ mobile roaming in the EU. Therefore not to maintain that as a domestic rule, politically, by a political party elected on the grounds of delivering Brexit, shows a distinct lack of political smell. It’s as though the LibDems were still inside the cabinet…. And look how many votes the LibDems received in recent years 🙂

          • Callum says:

            Tim, I’ve already demonstrated in another comment that wholesale costs are NOT “so low that it’s minimal”.

            I don’t even know where to begin with your constant insistence that a Brexit government should be promoting the benefits of being in the EU and trying to replicate them domestically!

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        It might have come in part from having had the largest dividend ever paid in U.K. corporate history (at the time at least) – after the sale of their Verizon shares a few years back?

        • JDB says:

          That dividend was paid to upon the insistence of shareholders as they didn’t trust the management to reinvest the proceeds of the Verizon sale effectively; the company has systematically destroyed shareholder value. The company continues to pay too much out in ordinary dividends as the prospects of capital growth are very poor and adding some EU roaming won’t change anything on this front.

    • Callum says:

      On what basis do you claim the UK landscape is uncompetitive?

  • nick says:

    The only question to ask is whether EU operators will be charging THEIR customers who visit the UK from next year?

    If not – this is shameful from UK operators.

    • Callum says:

      I think the only question to ask is “why do people have such strong views about the economics of mobile networks when they don’t have the slightest idea how they work?”!

      If EU networks want to swallow the big loss that roaming charges make them that’s up to them. It’s hardly “shameful” if Vodafone doesn’t want to join them.

      • Nick says:

        I’m in the industry. There is no big loss to swallow. That happened when people went to town on data use. But fair usage caps when out of home country were introduced a couple years ago to avoid this

        • Callum says:

          In the industry how?

          What’s the typical charge to the network for a British user downloading 1GB in France?

  • Matarredonda says:

    One word sums these charges up ‘greed’
    All these providers said in 2016 when challenged,bwhy would we reintroduce roaming
    If they had been honest then a few more night have voted differently.
    For a family of 4 going on holiday Roanoke Ng charges could easily cost £60 and even more if they don’t organise themselves
    A total rip off

  • Callum says:

    Not a single one said that. In fact, I’m pretty sure they said the opposite. People normally refer to their statements after 2016 when we were finalising the new legislation but again, they didn’t say “why would we”, they did they didn’t currently have plans to do so.

    I have a low opinion of anyone who voted for Brexit. If you voted for Brexit but would have been swayed by mobile roaming then God help us… Not least because you were told over and over and over again that it would happen!

    Charges to the network could easily cost £60. Why are you so greedy that you think the rest of us should be subsidising your usage instead of paying for what you use? Are you trying to rip us off?

    • Tim says:

      Callum – well, having a low opinion of someone who voted one way or the other says more about you than them. Especially as you are knocking about 50% of the population. Personally, I voted remain as the economic benefits outweighed the political disadvantages, and I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome, which would more than likely have occurred further down the line anyway as the EU moves away from economic intergovernmental coordination towards political federalisation. I also have lived and worked in six EU countries and nine non-EU countries and know that EU ‘freedom of movement’ is not all that it is it made out to be. Also my missus of 15 years is French and has paid taxes to HMRC in the UK for 20 years and I thought it was unfair she did not get the opportunity to vote. 🙂

  • Ian says:

    How long before we hear complaints about poor hotels being let down by the lack of British residents willing to clean rooms or serve at tables etc.

    We were all quite happy to see Europeans in our hotels then. But now we don’t want them.

    Vodafone is the thin edge of the wedge!

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