However, using your UK mobile phone abroad is now going to incur extra charges – here’s what you need to know.
After months and months of travel restrictions and bans, businesses who rely on travel have had to adapt and maintain international relationships, virtually. However, now the world is opening up and you are able to hop on that plane and take your business anywhere! Hold on, before you book that plane ticket and pack your sunglasses, there is something to need to know if you are planning on using your UK mobile in the EU. For a long while now we have been able to take advantage of using our UK phone in most European countries without having to incur extra charges, but this is about to change and definitely worth keeping in mind if you’re preparing to use your UK business mobile abroad.
Now, when it comes to mobile providers, some are implementing different charges and plans compared to others – there isn’t really a clear-cut charge across the board. So, it’s important that you know what your specific mobile provider is offering you with your current plan, how this is going to be affected by the roaming charges and how to avoid bill shock with unexpected roaming charges. Which is exactly what we’re going to do now. By the time you get to the end of this news piece you will know exactly what mobile roaming charges are, how they are incurred for three of the biggest mobile providers and how you can avoid them. So, let’s get into the new EU roaming charges and how to avoid overspending whilst using your mobile abroad.
So, it’s probably best to start with an explanation of what mobile roaming actually is. When your phone is connected to an overseas network that is classed as ‘roaming’. Throughout the 2000s and most of the 2010s, if you wanted to use your mobile phone abroad, including call minutes, texts and data, you would expect large charges on your bill for your usage. You may remember reading newspaper headlines of people accidentally spending hundreds or thousands of pounds after using their UK mobile phone abroad.
In 2017, roaming charges were outlawed by the European Union. Fair use limits were applied, but, in general, business in EU countries were prevented from charging their customers extra in order to use their phone away from the UK. This meant that we could all use our phones in the same way, including using the internet, and use our monthly allowances without worrying about extra charges. Now, we’ve mentioned the European Union, you can probably guess what the cause of these charges being reintroduced is. Yes, it’s the ‘b’ word! Unfortunately the Brexit trade deal did not rule out these charges, so from January 2021, UK operators have been allowed to reintroduce the roaming charges when using your UK mobile in Europe. As Covid hit, most of us stopped travelling, so may not have felt the pinch of these new roaming charges, but now travelling is back and not being aware of what it is going to cost you to use your business mobile in the EU, could cause a build-up of unexpected charges. Currently the UK mobile providers who have announced they are reintroducing EU roaming charges are: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. It is worth noting that these roaming charges are not applicable in Ireland. As EE, O2 and Vodafone are the providers we have partnerships with, we’re going to give the lowdown on how they are handling the new charges.
As EE were the first to introduce their new charges to their mobile plans, we’ll cover their new charges first. When it comes to their business plans, any contract that is taken out from 27th October 2021 will be affected by EE’s new roaming charges. There will be a £2 charge to use your business mobile within, what they’re calling their ‘Europe Zone’. This daily charge will come into effect in January 2022, however there are going to be plans and add-ons that will prevent this charge being a surprise and instead integrate it within your contract.
So, with all typical EE business contracts you will pay £2 per day for your usage when roaming within the EU. However, there are two forms of ‘add-on’ for roaming that you can add on to your plan to make your usage go further, geographically. Firstly, there is the ‘Roam Further Pass – Chargeable Version’ which costs £10 a month and is available to both new and existing Small Business Customers on a Pay Monthly Plan or selected 12 month SIM-only plans. This can be cancelled at any time and allows you to use your UK phone in the EU, as well as USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.
The second form is the ‘Smart Benefit’ version of the Roam Further Pass, which is available to Pay Monthly handset, selected SIM and tablet customers who are on a Smart Plan. This allows you to access your normal allowances in the EU, as well as USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Where this differs from the chargeable plan, is that this is integrated within your contract rather than a monthly add-on that you can add when you need and cancel when you don’t.
Like all things, it depends on what you need the Mobile Roaming for and how often you are going to need it. If you are travelling often and need to use your phone abroad on a frequent basis then the ‘Smart Benefit’ Roam Further Pass option may be a better option, as you won’t have to worry about adding it on all of the time and the cost is integrated in your monthly cost of your plan. Whereas, if you need to travel abroad every now and again, then choosing the Roam Further Pass as an add-on may be the better option, as it’s just an additional cost whenever you need it. With both options, when you run out, you run out – there are no rollovers with any of your data, minutes or texts.
Right, let’s move on to Vodafone’s new charges. With Vodafone, all plans that were taken out before the 11th August 2021, will not change whilst you stay on that plan. However, if you have bought a new plan or upgraded since then, the roaming charge changes will come into effect in early 2022. However, we’re talking about business plans now and all of Vodafone’s business mobile plans come with inclusive business roaming options, which is really good – as charges that are part of your plan mean less surprises when that final bill comes through at the end of the month. The last thing anyone needs is a sunburn and a massive unexpected charge on their mobile bill after a business trip. Now, when it comes to the plans, there are two main categories of travelling options with Vodafone that involve geographical ‘Zones’. So, let’s deep-dive into how this works.
Firstly, let’s look at the ‘Small Business’ options, also known as the ‘Small Business Traveller’, which is for businesses with 1-9 employees. With this option you can take your UK mobile plan with you and roam throughout Europe Zones 1 and 2, just as you would in the UK without any additional charges to your bill. The list of European countries included within these zones is extensive, which is great! When it comes to roaming away from Europe, you can roam in over 100 countries in Vodafone’s ‘World Zone’ for £5 (exc. VAT) a day and use your UK plan as normal. What’s great about this option, is that you only pay for the days that you use. If you have a business plan with Vodafone and don’t have Small Business Traveller included, you will pay their standard roaming rate.
Now, let’s explore the ‘Large Business’ options or the ‘Business and Public Sector Traveller’, which is for businesses with 10+ employees. Now the options within this category are more ‘zone-based’ than the small business category. Within Europe Zone 1, you can use your UK plan and your UK mobile phone, just as you would in the UK, with no extra charges. Zone 1 countries include:
In comparison with the Small Business Traveller, if you roam within Zone 2, you are going to be charged £2.50 per day. However, like the ‘World Zone’ roaming, you only need to pay for the days that you use your phone in the EU. Countries in Zone 2 are:
Roaming in the ‘World Zone’ is exactly the same principle as the Small Business Traveller option.
The main benefit of the way Vodafone are handling business mobile roaming charges, is that they make billing simple and avoid surprise costs. With no additional charges in Zone 1 and an easy-to-understand and implement per-day rate charge with Zone 2 and World Zone, you know exactly what to expect your roaming charges to be. You can also take advantage of Vodafone’s self-proclaimed biggest roaming network that claims to offer roaming in more destinations than any other UK mobile provider. With plans to extend this network, if you tend to go a bit further afield in Europe, this could be a great option for you.
Last but not least, it’s time to take a look at how O2 are managing their new business mobile roaming charges. Similar to Vodafone, we are dealing with ‘Zones’ again. However, with O2, their plans are incredibly straightforward. Their standard business tariffs come with roaming within their ‘Europe Zone’. So, unless you are on a specialist business tariff, roaming within Europe will be included within your UK allowance. All minutes,texts and data will work in Europe, exactly as they do within the UK. O2’s Europe Zone, contains 48 destinations and includes all EU/EAA countries, as well as Switzerland, Monaco and the Channel Islands, which is a fantastic geographical reach.
Let’s be honest, the most important feature of a mobile contract these days is the data, so it’s incredibly beneficial that O2’s plans allow you to us your data exactly, as you would in the UK. If you happen to go over your limit you will be charged at the UK rate, rather than a higher tariff just because you’re abroad. Furthermore, if you need to buy more, again you will be charged at the UK rate, as well and you are not limited to solely using this data in the Europe Zone. If you haven’t used up this extra data by the time you leave, then you can use it when you return to the UK. Finally, within some tariffs, O2 offer a £36 data overage cap whilst using data in the EU, to protect you from bill shock when you return to the UK.
So, how can you pick the best package that ensures you can roam freely through the EU for the best price? This is where purchasing a business mobile package from Elite gives you it all. Our team of specialists will take the time to get to know you, your business and its needs and utilise our powerful partnerships with EE, Vodafone and O2 to find the business mobile package for you. When it comes to roaming, we’ll assess how you use your phone internationally and find the best roaming options that are cost-effective and give you the freedom you need when using your phone abroad.
Unlike buying direct, your journey with us doesn’t end when you purchase a business mobile solution from us. Our award-winning account management services, takes the hassle out of managing your contract. Make changes to your plan with ease by contacting your personal, dedicated account manager and let them take care of the rest. If there is a better offer out there, your account manager will find it and let you know, so you’re always getting the best package for the best price. With business mobile solutions from Elite, you have complete freedom with your mobile communication and can roam with confidence, knowing you have the best package for you.
Elite Group is a leading technology provider which delivers and manages unified IT and communications services to enable businesses to communicate and collaborate in a secure, productive and profitable way.
Providing unrivalled technical support and with dedication to customer service, Elite’s team is renowned for helping organisations achieve their productivity objectives and business goals.