New UK customers of Three can no longer roam in the EU for free

9 Sep 2021

Image: Three UK

The telecom company is reintroducing roaming charges for customers in the UK, following similar moves by EE and Vodafone.

Three has become the latest carrier in the UK to bring back roaming charges for customers who use its services while travelling in the EU.

The telecom giant announced today (9 September) that it will charge customers who sign a new contract or upgrade from 1 October onwards a flat fee of £2 per day for roaming in the EU and £5 per day outside the EU. However, pay-as-you-go customers, existing contract holders and those roaming in Ireland will not be affected.

“We know that Go Roam has always been important to our customers and we had hoped to retain this benefit, but unfortunately there are now too many unknowns, which has made it commercially unviable for us to continue,” Three UK said in a statement.

“This includes variations to the underlying cost of roaming, meaning we now have no visibility over the maximum amount it will cost us to provide a service for our customers to use their phone while abroad.”

Three UK joins other British mobile operators BT-owned EE and Vodafone, which both recently announced the return of roaming charges for UK customers in Europe.

This means that O2, which recently merged with Virgin Media to form Virgin Media O2, is the only major UK telecom company to not introduce roaming charges. However, it has introduced a fair usage cap, beyond which customers are charged. O2 users who go over 25GB per month of data usage while in Europe must pay £3.50 per GB.

Charging customers in the EU for roaming in other member states has been banned. But following Brexit, questions lingered over whether UK mobile networks would maintain the ban on roaming charges.

Three UK said that it wants to keep its roaming prices as simple and affordable as possible, and that the new charges reflect this. “It also means only those who roam will pay for the service, rather than customers who stay in the UK also absorbing this cost,” the company said.

“We are investing billions of pounds in improving our network and infrastructure and already offer some of the most cost-effective deals on the market – implementing a separate roaming fee will enable us to continue to do this.”

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic