UK mobile operator EE announced plans to charge customers more for using their plans in Europe from January 2022, making it the first operator to reintroduce roaming fees following the country’s trade deal with the European Union (EU).
BT-owned EE said those joining or upgrading with the operator from 7 July 2021 would be on the hook for a £2 extra charge to use their tariff allowances in 47 EU destinations from January 2022.
In 2017, legislation was introduced across the bloc putting an end to operators charging customers extra to use their tariff plans in EU countries. Those rules notably no longer apply to EE, Vodafone UK, 3 UK and O2, following Brexit.
However, following the signing of a trade deal between the UK and EU in January, all four operators stated they had no plans to reintroduce roaming fees.
EE explained its change of course would “support investment into our UK based customer service and leading UK network”.
Its announcement comes after it was rumoured O2 was going to be the first to pull the trigger on EU roaming charges. However, it only introduced a fair use data cap of 25GB a month.
Kester Mann, director consumer and connectivity at CCS Insight said the reintroduction of roaming charges reflected a failure “to stem the long-term decline in average consumer spend amid heavy investment in networks”.
However, he added a £2 per day charge was a “far cry from the bad old days”, even though the move would not be well received by customers.
“EE has handed on a plate a clear marketing opportunity to rivals. It would have had to carefully calculate that the upside outweighs any potential reputational damage,” he added.