Vodafone say border customers exempt from new charges for 'heavy' mobile roaming users

A 4G phone mast. Vodafone has said border customers will be exempt from potential new charges for 'heavy' roaming users.
Ryan McAleer

VODAFONE has confirmed that its mobile phone customers in border areas and cross-border workers will not be affected by changes to the network’s roaming policy on January 18 2021.

Mobile roaming charges were abolished across the EU in 2017. But the new EU-UK trade deal has reopened the door to potential new charges.

The four main mobile network operators have already pledged not to reintroduce roaming charges as the end of the Brexit transition period ended last night (December 31).

Vodafone is however set to introduce potential new charges for ‘heavy’ roaming users from January 18.

The operator said: “Where a customer’s usage abroad is greater than at home over a four-month period, we will message them to give them 14 days to clarify their usage.”

Vodafone said the new charges include of 3.3p per minute for voice calls, 1p per SMS text and £3.13 per GB of data. It said its roam-free policies were designed for temporary, periodic travel such as holidays and short breaks.

But in a statement, the operator confirmed its customers along the border will be exempt.

“Customers who travel between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland will not be impacted by these changes, nor will those who are connected to masts on the other side of the border.”

O2 said it has no plans to changes its ‘roam like at home’ arrangements.

But the operator's roaming policy is already subject to similar fair usage terms due to be introduced by Vodafone.

O2 said customers using its services outside the UK in EU countries for more than 63 days in any four-month period, who can’t demonstrate prevailing use and/or presence in the UK, are likely to be deemed in breach of its fair usage policy.

In such a case, O2 will give two weeks notice before applying charges.

The operator said this policy will apply to its customers in border areas.

But O2 said that connecting to its network masts in Northern Ireland, at least once a day, will count as a day of presence in the UK, even if customers cross the border that day.

That should be sufficient for most border customers and cross border workers to avoid additional charges.

Both O2 and Vodafone also appear willing to give customers an opportunity to explain their situation before any new charges are applied.

EE, which is owned by BT, said Brexit won’t change its approach to roaming.

A spokesperson for the network said: “Our customers enjoy inclusive roaming in Europe and beyond, and we don't have any plans to change this based on the Brexit outcome. So our customers travelling to the EU will continue to benefit from inclusive roaming.”

The Three mobile network has also previously said that Brexit would not changes its approach to roaming, which offers no extra costs for customers in 70 destinations.

A spokesperson yesterday re-iterated the operator's position on roaming.

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