Roam like at home ends ability to hide while on a sunny beach
The summer holiday basking restfully on a sunny beach used to mean worries about how much you would spend on your mobile, or just keeping roaming turned off and only being in contact once you find some Wi-Fi. Today 15th June the Roam Like At Home legislation has come into force, which means you can get on a plane in a UK airport and your UK call and text message allowances will go with you if going to another EU country, data also (though there are options for fair usage on or large data unlimited plans). The EU has put together a FAQ on the topic.
Exactly what will happen in the UK with regards to this legislation is one of the many things that will be part of the Brexit negotiations, if things go well we may retain this roaming nirvana or it will be back to the days of newspaper stories of people running up bills of £1000's on their mobiles by video calling friends back home.
Are there any volume limits to calling, sending SMS and using mobile data at domestic price while I travel?
If at home you have unlimited calls and SMS, you will get unlimited calls and SMS when roaming in the EU.
If at home you have unlimited mobile data or very cheap mobile data, your operator may apply a safeguard (fair use) limit on data use while roaming. If this is the case, the operator will have to inform you in advance about such a limit and have to alert you in case you reach it. That safeguard limit will be high enough to cover most, if not all, of your roaming needs. Beyond this threshold, you can continue data roaming, subject to a small charge (maximum €7.70/GB + VAT; this will decline gradually to reach €2.50/GB as of 2022).EU FAQ on unlimited data and fair use
The fair use limit on data is explained above and we suspect that just like unlimited data on fixed line broadband providers will keep an eye on the data use volumes and see what happens, but if lots of people are streaming UHD video via their mobiles to watch something on TV and chewing masses of data we may see different providers imposing limits and charges.
Data usage on phones tends to be higher when on holiday as you often don't have the luxury of returning to your home Wi-Fi seamlessly and getting the numerous app updates, so remember your allowance may not go as far and therefore make sure any cost caps are in place and that alerts for approaching your data allowance are not ignored. The Roam Like At Home should allow you to top-up data, calls or texts at the same price as at home.
For those thinking, great I can buy a SIM from the cheapest EU country and use that all the time in the UK, unfortunately the roaming does not work like that and you need to check the rules for each provider, some may only allow you a few months outside the home country as part of the fair use policy.
The roaming pages for the four main UK providers are (in alphabetical order):
- EE http://shop.ee.co.uk/international/travelling-abroad
- O2 http://www.o2.co.uk/help/pay-monthly/roaming-in-europe
- Three http://www.three.co.uk/Support/Roaming_and_international/Roaming_abroad
- Vodafone https://www.vodafone.co.uk/explore/costs/travelling-abroad/
Remember if you do turn roaming on on your mobile and are used to using it freely across the EU, to check a providers policy if heading out of the EU and for those visiting countries that border with non-EU countries be careful as you might roam to a cell tower outside the EU.