Virgin Media O2 customers will not be charged for mobile roaming charges in the EU, the company said, making it the only major UK mobile operator to make such a commitment.
All roaming charges were removed across the EU in June 2017 after several years of falling prices, in line with EU law.
However, roaming was not included in the UK’s withdrawal agreement from the EU, meaning European and UK operators are no longer required to offer tariff-free use when subscribers use their phone abroad.
Although the four major networks have all repeatedly promised not to reintroduce the fees, which were removed across the EU in June 2017, EE, Three and Vodafone have all confirmed their intention to do so in 2022.
Virgin Media O2 has tightened its policies by introducing a 25 GB data cap, after which customers will be charged 0.3 pence per MB, or £ 3 per GB. However, it says only 1% of its users come close to this limit and hopes his engagement will boost business at a time when many people in the UK are looking to travel overseas more often as pandemic restrictions loosen.
“We are starting the year by giving our customers some certainty that we will not be reintroducing roaming charges in Europe for customers on O2 or Virgin Mobile,” said Gareth Turpin, chief commercial officer, mobile, at Virgin Media O2. .
“Unlike all the other major mobile networks that bring down roaming charges, we won’t keep up. With many Brits now looking to plan a trip abroad, we’ve got our customers covered and additional roaming charges will be one less thing to worry about.
“I welcome the decision to and keep roaming free, which means UK citizens can still use their mobile data, calls and texts across Europe at no additional cost,” added Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Twitter.
Analysts believe Virgin Media O2’s contrarian stance could position it as a consumer champion in the market and cause rivals to reconsider.
“Virgin Media O2 opened the door to roaming,” said Kester Mann, director, consumer and connectivity at CCS Insight. “Against the market’s tendency to bring the charges back, his decision to stand firm will raise the entire industry’s eyebrows and deal a blow to its rivals. Like EE, Vodafone and then Three have each confirmed that they will reinstate the dreaded charges, that left the door ajar for Virgin Media O2 to break ranks and disrupt the market.
“When the joint venture was launched last June, it made a commitment to make things happen; this news shows that it is ready to live up to this ambition. Expect it to make hell for the leather in its marketing as it seeks to position itself firmly on the consumer side. Homelessness is a poisonous term for many, and the horror stories of people racking up huge bills on vacation have rightly led to widespread mistrust and resentment of telecom operators.
“This move could hit three harder. It was the first to start phasing out roaming in 2013 and has been promoting its Go Roam offering with confidence as it seeks to differentiate itself by overcoming common customer issues. If he goes ahead with plans to bring homelessness back in May, that risks undoing much of that effort. “
If you want to take advantage of free roaming, see the best O2 mobile phone deals
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