EE’s roaming charge reintroduction post-Brexit simply irritating for Brits and an indicator of future challenges’ says GlobalData

Since 2017, EU citizens have been able to use their call, text and data allowances when travelling in the EU area without incurring extra cost. However, following the UK and EU’s trade deal in December 2020 as part of the Brexit process, EE has announced that it will become the first UK operator to reintroduce roaming charges from January 2022 across 47 European destinations.

Robert Pritchard, Senior Analyst at GlobalData, offers his view on the announcement:

“This move by EE, part of the BT group, is inconvenient and irritating for Brits looking to holiday and work across the EU. Although it is insignificant in terms of cash – let’s face it, the charge of £2 for a day’s roaming is less than a customer would pay for a cup of coffee – we should expect further changes along the line. This is an indication of how UK mobile companies will look to make up for historic multi-million roaming revenue losses during the pandemic.

“While other UK mobile operators have claimed they have no plans to follow suit, some adjustments have already been made on data roaming offerings. Three, for example, is cutting its fair-use limit from 20GB to 12GB a month for data roaming in the EU.

“The timing of the re-introduction of roaming charges is convenient for EE/BT as it is far enough away for people not to notice straight away – especially when foreign travel remains largely an aspiration during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, making this announcement so close to the five-year anniversary of the UK Brexit referendum might not exactly be perfect timing by EE’s marketing folk. Although the announcement has given rise to some negative press coverage, that will soon pass.

“Consumers and businesses should keep their eyes open as this may be an early indicator of future – potentially more significant – changes to come. Direct costs for customers may inflate as a result of divergence, but indirect costs due to changes in regulation may have more of an impact on businesses’ operations over time – for example, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been targeted by TIGRR* for reform. UK enterprises need to keep track of ongoing divergence from the regulations with which they have become familiar, especially enterprises that have significant activities across Continental Europe.“

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