Travel after Brexit has never been harder for a Brit. New roaming charges in 2022 are limiting mobile use outside of the UK, affecting holidaymakers, long-term travellers, British expats, digital nomads and those travelling for work.
What Are Roaming Charges?
You may have heard a lot about roaming charges recently, being the latest in fees after Brexit when it comes to travel. You may be wondering what roaming charges are, or why they even exist?
In short, roaming charges exist to contribute to what mobile providers have to pay to local operators to allow their network to work abroad; 20-25GB usage of roaming data in Europe will cost a UK mobile operator roughly £63, according to Enders Analysis.
In 2017, the EU introduced the ‘Roam like at Home’ initiative that granted free roaming to all EU citizens, no matter what network you were on. Since Brexit, UK mobile service providers are not subject to this plan, putting customers at risk of having to, once again, pay roaming charges while abroad. Although many UK mobile providers claimed they would not reintroduce roaming fees, they have done just that.
New roaming charges are bringing an end to five years of worry free roaming from abroad. Different networks are implementing different charges, so it is worth checking with your provider, as you can also be at risk of getting a blocked phone as networks have also introduced fair usage caps. It is difficult to keep an eye on how much roaming data you are using, especially since many phones are using your data without you knowing, for example if your phone automatically saves your data, such as messages and photos, to the cloud.
What Do New Roaming Charges Mean?
Depending on which network you are with, roaming charges in 2022 can mean different things.
Roaming charges will activate for most big networks in 2022, charging you to use roaming data, calls and texts.
Vodafone will begin charging for roaming in January 2022, EE will follow in March and Three have already begun charging roaming fees, as of September 2021.
Although O2 was among the networks who announced they would reintroduce roaming fees, they have since announced that they will not. However, O2 customers will still be subject to fair usage limits and also a limited availability of data they can use while abroad.
How Will Roaming Charges Affect Me?
As a Three customer, you will be subject to a payment of £2 a day to use calls, texts and data from Europe. Outside of Europe, in many countries you will be charged £5 a day, when it was previously free.
If you are with EE or Vodafone, you will also be charged £2 to use roaming data, calls and texts in Europe.
Fair usage policies enable networks to monitor and limit the amount of time you can spend using your phone when outside the UK. Going over the limit can result in your phone being blocked or extra charges. If you are on a local mobile network in Europe, you will be subject to fair usage policies in the UK.
EE’s fair usage limit is 50GB and, if reached, you will be charged an extra £3.60 per 10MB.
O2 have introduced a 25GB fair usage limit followed by a charge of £3.50 per GB, if reached. Vodafone have also limited usage to 25GB, but will charge an extra £3.13 per GB if reached.
Three have cut their fair usage limit from 20GB to 12GB a month, and a charge of £3 per GB beyond that.
If you are living, working or travelling abroad for long periods of time, it is very likely that you will have to pay extra fees on top of roaming charges in order to use your phone without limits. Whichever UK mobile network you are with, the charges are likely to cost you up to £45/€50 a month to use your phone abroad.
Whichever mobile network you are on, new roaming charges will affect you when travelling outside of the UK. It is also important to be aware of how the changes can affect you depending on what type of travel you are doing.
Deciding to relocate abroad is as complicated as it is exciting. Becoming a British expat can depend on changing visa requirements among other things, and now roaming charges have been added to the list.
Having a stable connection to the UK is essential for many expats, whether it is to stay in touch with friends and family or for work calls. The risk of getting cut off is too great if you stay with a UK mobile network.
Nigel Ayres, founder of The Expat Network and an expat himself, was concerned about the possibility of disconnection, as he told the Express, “We wanted to retain our UK number but we get increasing charges due to Brexit and their ‘fair use’ policy on calls from Spain”. Ayres turned to Xpatfone, powered by Devyce, a virtual number built specifically for the needs of British expats, adding, “Xpatfone… allows me to keep my UK number, receive text and verification codes from banks etc via an App on my phone”
Another group of travellers that will be hit by roaming charges are digital nomads. VoIP systems are the best bet for digital nomads, as they do not require any extra payments to ensure they work as you hop from place to place. For digital nomads, WIFI or data connection is essential, for work and to navigate their home for the month.
Travelling as a digital nomad, it is likely your UK mobile service provider will cause you issues, alongside roaming charges and usage limits, as they do not support long-term travellers. Porting your number to Devyce is the best way to avoid extra charges and keep your phone working wherever you are in the world.
Similarly to digital nomads, gap year adventurers, solo tourists and working explorers will rely on WIFI or data connection to connect with others, plan their further travel and learn about the places they land.
Mobile providers that are reintroducing roaming charges will not support customers who are regularly moving to different locations around the world. Travelling outside of periodic travel, you are more likely to be charged for using roaming data and subject to fair usage limits. Service providers have different rules and charges depending on which country you are in, which can be a pain to check and stay on top of when you are travelling.
A virtual number allows you to use your phone no matter where you are in the world, even if you just need a number in case of emergencies, it is worth having a number that you can rely on, not at risk of disconnecting or charging you extortionate amounts.
The pandemic has greatly affected the way we live and work. Those who used to travel regularly for work have since gone remote or adopted a hybrid model of working, half at home, half in the office.
Business travel expenses have decreased hugely due to coronavirus, however 2022 brings us new hope of a world without restrictions again, slowly reopening business travel to those in situations where it is essential to travel for work. Most businesses’ would have issued company work phones to their employees, letting them travel and use their phone without any hassle but new roaming charges have broken this system. Employers will have to pay unreasonable prices on devices used abroad and employees won’t want to have to explain why.
Having access to the internet on your phone is a total necessity when travelling for work, whether it is to check in with your colleagues in the UK before a meeting, access your work email or keep up to date with the latest travel restrictions. Many businesses are switching to VoIP phone systems for their office, in doing so they avoid roaming charges and can allow their employees to use their work numbers from anywhere in the world.
After two years of restrictions and cancelled holidays, Brits are keen to get out of the UK, to sunbathe on the beach or hit the slopes.
Overall, those who will be most affected by new roaming charges will be those travelling outside of periodic travel, or those relocating outside of the UK.
However post-Brexit travel will mean holiday goers will be charged roaming fees in Europe, including popular holiday destinations such as France, Spain and Portugal. Paying £2 for the days you want to use roaming data may not sound like a lot, but fair usage will also stop you from using your phone longer than usual.
A British holiday maker told The Telegraph how their holiday took a turn for the worst after a skiing accident landed them in the hospital. While in the hospital, although they had ‘unlimited’ data, fair usage limits were hit and they were unable to use their data to reach family and friends to let them know how they were, or to organise travel back home.
The best solution for any type of British traveller is to purchase a virtual number. This may sound scary, but is actually a very easy, cheap and simple solution.
A virtual number is a VoIP solution, Voice over Internet Protocol, which works by sending your calls and texts over the internet instead of traditional telephone lines; just as apps like WhatsApp and Viper do.
Using a virtual number provider, such as Devyce, is ideal for any type of traveller, as there are no roaming charges, no usage limits, no extra fees, and no need for a second phone.
Devyce charges a fixed monthly fee, starting at £8.99, for unlimited calls, texts and data. Completely cloud based, you don’t have to worry about a physical SIM or contracts. Get 24 hour support via email or phone to help guide you through the porting process, in which you can transfer your UK mobile number, or choose a new one to use, usually completely within 24 hours. This ensures your mobile will work just as it used to. Devyce is compatible with foreign networks, such as Lobster, so if you are an expat with a local SIM, you can still keep your UK number.
Browse Devyce packages to find the right one for you here: https://devyce.com/pricing/
Port your number here: https://devyce.com/porting/
If you are an expat or long term traveller, get ahead of the game and switch now to avoid roaming fees in 2022. Start your journey with Xpatfone, powered by Devyce, and get set up within 24 hours here: