· Luke Faragher · Mobile Networks  · 4 min read

UK mobile networks backtrack on EU roaming charges

Major UK networks backtrack on promise not to reintroduce EU roaming charges

Major UK networks backtrack on promise not to reintroduce EU roaming charges

Despite assertions to the contrary, UK networks are reintroducing high roaming charges following the UK’s departure from the EU. So if you’re planning on using your phone abroad it is important to make sure you’re not caught out by “Bill Shock” by checking with your carrier before you go. 

Better still, why not join ONSIM where we will continue to offer our customers roaming in the UK 🇬🇧, EU 🇪🇺 and USA 🇺🇸 at no extra cost!

Almost all of the big UK mobile phone networks, including EE, Sky Mobile, Three and Vodafone have already reintroduced EU roaming fees, with giffgaff and Tesco Mobile the latest names to announce changes. Continue reading to find out more.

In 2017, mobile networks in EU countries were banned from charging customers extra to use their phones in European countries, with the right to make calls, send SMS and use data allowances anywhere in Europe – roam like at home (RLAH) – one of the most popular pieces of European legislation in the UK. The Brexit deal did not however, stipulate that these roaming charges could not be reintroduced in the future and unsurprisingly the networks have jumped at the opportunity to increase their charges.  

Ernest Doku, a telecoms expert at the price comparison and switching service Uswitch.com. Stated with charges differing across the networks it is a “confusing time” to travel with your phone.

Doku goes on to say, of the big four networks, O2 is the only one that is not currently planning to bring back roaming fees, whilst Virgin Mobile customers should also be safe from roaming charges “for this year at least”.

Oddly, O2 owns GiffGaff and is the MNO (host network) for Tesco mobile so any charges being reintroduced probably signify change is coming to O2 and Virgin. Or perhaps they are just testing the waters to gauge public opinion? Either way, what is evident is that roaming in the EU is going to get a lot more expensive.We’ve put together a rough guide on the costs you can expect to pay whilst roaming in the EU (prices quoted accurately at date of publication – please use for reference only and check with your actual carrier before travel – we offer no warranties for inaccuracies, representations, etc).

Proposed EU Roaming rates UK Networks

NETWORKTrip Duration (7 Days)30 Min Call50 SMSData Youtube 1080p at 60FPS – 2 hoursTOTAL
Sky Mobile£14£0£0£0£14

How are ONSIM still able to maintain RLAH in the EU and USA when all the other networks are re-introducing roaming fees?

On a traditional network when you roam into another country your SIM is hosted on that foreign network as a visitor. That foreign network charges your home network for facilitating your connection whilst you are there and your network passes on these charges to you (with margin) to cover this expense. Frustratingly what is often the case is the foreign network is owned and operated by the same global entity that owns your network so it’s often (not always) all a bit of a con.

(What follows is a very brief non-technical summary) With ONSIM, when you roam (into France 🇫🇷 for example) we switch the profile on your SIM from a UK network 🇬🇧 to a EU network 🇪🇺. Your number and features stay exactly the same but for all intents-and-purposes your SIM is now a local EU SIM and is covered by EU RLAH legislation. The best way to think of it is that it’s like having lots of local SIM’s merged into one SIM card. You don’t have to swap them in and out of your device and they all retain the same number, voicemail, bundle etc. Because we have relationships with EU carriers and UK carriers and we control the routing between networks so there are no expensive roaming charges to pass on – problem solved 😅

Because we have POP’s in the UK 🇬🇧, EU 🇪🇺 and USA 🇺🇸 we can offer RLAH in these destinations (despite what the other UK networks are doing) and we have more global pops planned later this year.

Shameless service plug:

By moving to ONSIM, you will be able to continue roaming at no additional cost in the UK 🇬🇧, EU 🇪🇺 and USA 🇺🇸 saving money in the process. We are continuously working to expand our global RLAH Zone and will soon be offering roam like at home in new regions (for reference we currently operate standard roaming in areas outside our RLAH Zone).

Keep your eyes peeled to our Facebook, Linkedin & website for further information on new releases and product updates.

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