No deal Brexit: Operators 'could hike roaming fees'

Written by Hannah McGrath

Mobile operators could hike roaming charges for British travellers in the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the DExEU minister has said.

Speaking after the publication of the latest batch of planning notices for a no-deal Brexit, Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, said that mobile operators could opt to reinstate roaming charges if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal on 29 March 2019, but said the government would act to soften the blow on consumers.

He told the BBC: “No, I can't give a cast-iron guarantee. What I can say is that the government would legislate to limit the ability of roaming charges to be imposed on customers."

Yesterday’s technical notice on mobile phone charges states that “in the unlikely event” of a no-deal scenario, consumers would be advised to “check the roaming policies of your mobile operator before you go abroad".

Additional roaming charges for those using phones in another EU country were phased out by an EU directive in June 2017.

However, the regulation banning them will not enter in UK law automatically after Brexit, meaning UK mobile operators could choose to reintroduce extra charges.

So far, Vodafone and Three have publicly stated they will not bring back roaming charges and the government has said it would legislate to impose a £45 monthly cap on data usage outside of the UK, which is equivalent to the current EU charge limit of €50.

There would also be an obligation to alert mobile users when they hit 80 and 100 per cent of data usage, the government has said.

UK mobile operators have not publicly suggested that the return of roaming charges is on the cards, however much will depend on what EU operators decide to do in the event of a no-deal Brexit.