HOLIDAY-loving Brits could be hit with pricey mobile roaming charges when travelling abroad after Brexit.
Holidaymakers can currently use their monthly allowance of calls, texts and data without incurring any extra charges in 28 European destinations.
It’s part of the EU’s “roam like at home” rules, which have been in place since 2018.
But fears are growing that this free benefit could come to an end when the UK leaves the EU Customs Union and Single Market on December 31, 2020.
Should mobile providers start charging for using your network when abroad, it could result in costly bills for Brits on holiday.
We’ve previously reported on how Vodafone charged one reader a whopping £5,000 when her daughter, 10, made a 15-second TikTok video on holiday in Mauritius.
How to avoid roaming charges
TO avoid getting a bill in the hundreds, here’s how to keep roaming charges to a minimum:
- Turn on airplane mode – airplane mode turns off all wireless connections, including your mobile data.
- Ensure that data roaming is turned off – some iPhone and Android devices have a specific setting where you can turn off data roaming
- Turn off “auto sync” – search the settings menu for a “sync” page, and ensure auto sync is turned off, to prevent apps from updating in the background. Some devices also allow you to turn off background data.
- Ask your mobile network to block data roaming – most networks will allow you to put a block on data roaming.
- Only use your data when you know you’re using free wi-fi
- For those who want to use data roaming, many networks offer some kind of package designed to reduce costs. This is often the best way to avoid hidden charges, especially for people expecting to use their phone a lot. Make sure you keep an eye out for exceptions in the terms and conditions.
The warning about roaming charges comes as the government prepares to launch a huge £93million publicity drive to get the UK ready for Brexit.
As well as changes to your phone bill, it could also mean the cost of travel insurance, passports and travelling with pets are set to rise.
At the moment, it isn’t clear what Brexit means for mobile roaming – but Brits are being urged to check with their network provider to see if they’ll soon face charges.
Back in March 2019, the four phone company giants – Vodafone, EE, Three and O2 – told The Sun they have no plans to bring back mobile roaming fees after Brexit.
However, there’s no guarantee that this is still the case today.
These four providers cover around 85 per cent of the UK mobile market.
How much data are you using?
IF you do need to use your phone while abroad, it’s helpful to know roughly how much data a task is likely to use:
- Web browsing (one page) – 1MB to 4MB
- Streaming music/ radio (one hour) – 35MB to 135MB
- Skype/ video call (one hour) – 350MB
- Downloading emails (100) – 10MB
- Downloading PDFs (one) – 2MB to 5mb
Mobile companies will be allowed to introduce charges if they want to, although it’ll largely depend on what “commercial arrangements” they have with suppliers overseas.
Previously, a Which? investigation revealed how sending just a single photo abroad could land you a £50 mobile phone bill.
The consumer group’s research found a Virgin Mobile customer in Dubai could be hit with a bill for £52.70 for taking and sending a single photo by a text using their data.
Plusnet customers, meanwhile, uploading a single 5MB photo to the cloud could instantly hit their monthly data cap of £40 in ten popular destinations featured in the survey – including the US, Turkey, Mexico, Thailand and Australia.
It’s not just taking photos that could run up your bills either.
Which? found downloading a PDF plane ticket could cost you over £30, while streaming a single song from your favourite artist could set back by more than £30.
Last year, the government said it could look to introduce a cap on roaming charges if companies start charging.
Ministers would set a £45 per monthly billing period limit and force companies to send alerts when 80 per cent of that had been reached.
The UK is still in a transitional period with the EU until the end of this year, with discussions about how to form a new relationship still on-going during the coronavirus crisis.