EU Roaming charges return for Pay as you go customers

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More price increases are on the way for UK telco consumers as Vodafone confirms EU roaming charges are returning for its Pay as you go plans. This will impact Pay as you go customers on Vodafone brand plans, and also Voxi sub-brand.

They key dates for Vodafone customers are:

  • 27 May: Voxi customers will see charges for EU roaming
  • 8 June: Vodafone Pay as you go customers will see charges for EU roaming

The reintroduction of EU roaming charges has been rolling out across Pay monthly brands from January this year. However, Pay as you go customers – until now – have retained the benefit of inclusive EU roaming.

Vodafone and Voxi will offer Pay as you go customers EU roaming passes to cover short-term European roaming. These passes are priced at the same level as the Vodafone Pay monthly passes:

  • 1 day: £2
  • 8 days: £8
  • 15 days: £15

Although customers will likely see Vodafone’s move as unwelcome, we continue to see the reintroduction of roaming charges as sensible and positive pricing development for the industry.

Free inclusive EU roaming was an EU regulatory obligation imposed on mobile operators in all member states from 2017, including then-in-EU UK.

Now free from these regulations, UK operators can set EU roaming pricing to shift EU roaming from a regulatory obligation to a value-added service.

EU roaming regulations were always a blunt instrument – giving free EU roaming to all customers, regardless of their frequency of travel or willingness to pay for premium services. Frequent travellers, especially business travellers, with typically a higher ability to pay, were benefiting most from this policy.

Removing the regulatory obligation allows operators to create differential pricing and offerings based on what customers value. Operators can experiment with how best to monetise roaming – via day passes, month passes, or free inclusive roaming as a differentiator on premium tariffs. Further innovation can come from mixing and matching EU and non-EU countries into “travel zones” that can be captured by inclusive roaming passes.

Some operators, such as O2, may choose not to reintroduce roaming EU charges at all, creating a point of differentiation which can be used for marketing purposes.

Overall, we see the reintroduction of roaming charges – including on Pay as you go – as a good opportunity for operators to experiment with roaming pricing options. The goal is to create win-win solutions between operators and customers. Customers can grow operator revenues via purchasing roaming passes, and operators can provide their customers with fair and predictable pricing for roaming in the countries UK consumers frequently visit.