As previously feared, the result of the Brexit negotiations between the UK and European Union will have a major say on whether we continue to get free data roaming in Europe.
At present, mobile operators are obliged to offer free roaming in all EU states - with no extra charge to use your phone for internet access, calls or texts across the continent.
That will change after 29 March 2019. Even with a signed deal between the country and the EU, free roaming would only be guaranteed during the "Implementation Period", the UK government claims. After that period, roaming fees, including surcharges, would "depend on the outcome of the negotiations on the Future Economic Partnership".
Networks would no longer be legally bound to offer UK customers free roaming in the EU.
Things get worse if the country is unable to strike a Brexit deal.
A no-deal Brexit would result in no guarantees on surcharge free roaming at all. As published in its Brexit guidance papers released today, the UK government would pass legislation to replace the EU law on the financial limits for mobile data usage (setting it at £45 per month, rather than the existing €50) but networks would no longer be required to offer free data, call or text roaming across the EU.
They could revert to similar fees charged prior to the EU roaming laws being passed.
Most mobile customers could be okay, as major mobile operators, Three, EE, Vodafone and O2, have no current plans to change their roaming arrangements after Brexit. Three, for example, offered free roaming across Europe prior to EU legislation.
But if there is a no-deal Brexit all mobile phone owners are advised by the government to check your data plan before you travel abroad. And customers in Northern Ireland should be aware of "inadvertent roaming" in case their phone automatically picks up a carrier in Eire instead. That could incur charges once the UK has left the European Union.
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