- The cost of listening to a song on Spotify could be as high as €50 post Brexit, according to the Financial Times
- New EU plans to scrap roaming charges come into effect from mid-June 2017
- UK telecoms providers fear continental peers might increase prices as result
Britons who use data roaming on their mobile phones while travelling in the EU could face a hefty bill once the UK leaves the EU.
That’s unless Government can strike a comprehensive free-trade deal after Brexit. In October 2015, European MPs formally approved plans to scrap roaming charges starting from mid-June next year.
That will mean all mobile phone users throughout the EU will be able to make calls, send text messages and go online without facing extra charges from 15 June 2017 without the prospect of facing ‘shock’ bills when they get home.
Footing the bill: Mobile phone bills are set to rise with users being hit by new roaming charges
But Britain will not be covered by these rules once it leaves the EU.
That will allow continental mobile networks to charge British consumers what they like, with bills potentially as high as €50 (£43) for listening to a song on Spotify, for example, according to the Financial Times.
That’s in line with what U.S. visitors who don’t have a special data package currently have to pay.
To make matters worse, the European Commission has ruled out a quick bilateral deal between the UK and the EU to cover roaming charges.
Gunther Oettinger, the German commissioner said in a response to the European Parliament last year that under WTO rules any bilateral agreement outside of a comprehensive free-trade deal would have to be extended to all other members.
One telecoms executive told the FT’s Duncan Robinson and Nic Fildes that it is preparing for a ‘worst case scenario’ in which higher wholesale prices for calls and data would spill over into higher line rental or other fees across the whole network.
Better deal: Companies with networks in the UK like Vodafone would be able to exchange access to their own infrastructure with their continental peers unlike their smaller rivals
‘We could be exposed to the likes of France and Spain raising prices,’ he said.
Post Brexit, British mobile phone operators will have to agree their own bilateral deals with other phone companies across the EU.
During these talks, companies with networks in the UK, such as Vodafone and Three, would be able to exchange access to their own infrastructure with their continental peers.
However, smaller operators who do not own infrastructure and use larger rivals’ networks would be unlikely to get such generous terms, one official told the FT.
From April this year, thanks to new EU regulations charges for mobile phone users travelling in another European Economic Area country (the 28 EU countries, plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) were capped at €0.05 (4p) per minute for all calls, €0.02 (2p) for text messages and each MB of data used must not incur a fee of more than €0.05 (4p) – excluding VAT.
The new rules were introduced after many travellers incurred ‘shock’ bills of thousands of pounds for using their mobile phones abroad, after the smartphone market exploded and mobile data consumption soared.
Data from comparison uSwitch published at the end of last year showed that one in six mobile phone users had to pay more than £100 on top of their normal bill, while the average was an extra £61, rising to £72 for 18-34 year olds.
Some mobile phone operators have already cut roaming charges.
Three already offers a ‘Feel at Home’ perk which won’t charge extra to call or text the UK or for data use in 18 countries.
Vodafone customers paying monthly on Red and Red Value bundles pay no roaming fees in 40 European countries.
While Tesco Mobile scrapped extra roaming charges for its customers travelling to any of 31 European countries during last summer.
Countries outside the EU are not covered by the new rules and roaming charges can be vastly more expensive.
Courtesy: Daily Mail Online