Vodafone UK is reintroducing roaming charges in the EU for customers on certain plans. Following the UK’s exit from the EU, the mobile operator is no longer required to offer “roam like at home” service there. As such, the feature will be included only with certain Vodafone Xtra plans, as of 11 August.
The operator said that the change applies only to new and renewing postpaid customers. Prepaid users and existing postpaid customers will see no change, as long as they stay on the same plan. The Republic of Ireland is excluded and will continue to have free roaming. Furthermore, the new roaming charges will be applied only from 6 January 2022.
Roaming in Europe and selected destinations will be included with the Xtra postpaid plans that come with four Xtra benefits. For other customers, the operator is introducing new roaming passes at £2.00 (US $2.77) for a single day, £8.00 (US $11.08) for eight days or £15.00 (US $20.77) for 15 days.
It was only a matter of time—with the U.K. out of the EU, roaming charges were bound to come back. After much ado, the EC formally ended the charging of extra fees for roaming as of 15 June 2017. As of 31 January 2020, the U.K. exited the EU, and initially the mobile operators in the country stated that they would not reimpose roaming surcharges. However, this past June, EE did so, announcing a £2.00 (US $2.77) per day charge for customers to roam like at home while traveling in the EU states, effective in January 2022. Now Vodafone is following suit.
While the return of roaming charges may seem like a burden on subscribers (although it should be noted that not all subscribers will be liable to them), a salient point here is that free roaming hitherto was not exactly free. Subscribers’ fees in general were higher than they otherwise would be, in order to cover the costs of roaming connection. According to Vodafone CEO Ahmed Essam, those who actually benefited from free roaming were less than half of the subscriber base. He recently said, “The reality is that including roaming—a service that costs us money to provide—in every plan means more than half of our customers are paying for something that they don’t use.”