Government legislates to bring back roaming charges in no-deal Brexit

All four UK operators have said they have no plans to reintroduce roaming charges, but EE, O2 and Vodafone have not committed themselves not to do so.

The government has introduced legislation to allow mobile network operators (MNOs)to reinstate mobile roaming surcharges for UK citizens travelling within the European Union (EU), should the UK leave the bloc on 29 March with no deal.

But without a Brexit deal, Westminster cannot, through national legislation, set caps on the wholesale charges that EU MNOs can impose on their UK counterparts for handling UK users’ roaming traffic. This has to be done centrally by the EU, therefore the government cannot unilaterally guarantee free roaming for British citizens without exposing UK MNOs to the risk of being obliged to offer such a service at a financial loss.

However, the implementation of this legislation does not necessarily mean that mobile roaming charges will automatically be reinstated on the morning of 30 March, if the UK crashes out without a deal – it merely allows the MNOs to do so if they wish.

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