Brexit – what could it mean for roaming charges?

In this post, Alex Phillips, Head of Mobile at Adam Phones, explores what Brexit could mean for roaming charges. 

There has been great uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Brexit, and as we approach 29th March 2019, little progress has been made to solidify the next steps once the UK leaves Europe. For the telecommunications industry, the current uncertainties around Brexit are raising a number of questions about how and if charges could be impacted in the future.

Last week, the government announced that UK nationals could soon face roaming charges for using their mobile phones in Europe, should a no-deal Brexit take place. That is entirely correct, but there are a number of parts to this outside of the news headlines.

UK residents or UK customers can currently access their inclusive minutes and data on most tariffs for no extra charge whilst roaming in the EU, and little will change immediately following the Brexit deadline. Regardless of the situation that unfolds after March 29th 2019, mobile operators will have existing contractual agreements in place with their roaming partners across Europe that will need to be honoured in the same way those partners will have agreements with UK networks.

The interesting part will be when those contracts start coming to an end. Ultimately, the current relationship in place is mutually beneficial – enabling both UK and EU citizens to continue to communicate and work across Europe. There may be a review period whilst networks consider the costs to keep this in place, which may result in increased interconnect charges on other networks that mobile operators would likely have to absorb.  Vodafone, 3 and O2 (Telefonica) all own networks abroad, so there may be opportunities to mitigate the additional costs they would otherwise bare in some territories.

At the time of writing, a number of leading UK mobile networks have already set their stance on roaming post-Brexit, claiming they have ‘…no intention to change anything….’ while clarifying that if costs change significantly, they will ‘have to revise [that]’. Ultimately, the outcome of whether roaming costs will remain in place or not will sit with the mobile networks – but they are likely to work together in tandem. Put simply, there isn’t one operator that’s going to risk being commercially uncompetitive by charging a high roaming fee within the EU, while the other networks have a low fixed fee (or no fee at all).

Mobile telephony is a highly competitive market, and networks and resellers alike will have to ensure they are clear and concise on any customer impact, post-Brexit. Ultimately, there is a huge amount of travel between Europe and the UK, and when you have both parties set to suffer in some capacity, it will be mutually beneficial simply to leave roaming fees as they are.

Brexit or otherwise, we commonly see users travelling abroad at short or no notice, and solutions like our portal and app enable customers to retain live control of their telecoms expenditure, and enjoy detailed visibility of mobile voice and data consumption abroad.

For more information on how you can increase your visibility or control over data use and spend, whether in the UK or internationally, get in touch today or visit