O2 to remove European mobile phone roaming fees

10 May 2017, 15:44   By Samantha Smith

O2 have become the latest mobile network operator to confirm that they'll be making European roaming free for their customers from June 15th, when new EU rules on roaming come into force.

o2 store front
Credit: Ink Drop/Shutterstock.com

As with EE, they'll be ending roaming charges in 47 European destinations, including non-EU countries such as Monaco and Switzerland.

However, unlike EE, they aren't announcing or launching any new call plans to coincide with the scrapping of roaming charges, although they are running a competition via social media until May 16th to promote the changes.


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And when these changes come into effect, the operator's customers will be able to roam "at no extra cost" in the following nations:

  • EU: Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar (UK), Greece, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Poland, Portugal, Reunion Islands, Romania, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin (French), San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands and Vatican City.
  • Destinations outside the EU: Guernsey, Iceland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, and Switzerland.

These are exactly the same destinations included in EE's free roaming coverage, although one potentially important difference is that, for Pay As You Go customers, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Monaco and Switzerland aren't counted as part of O2's "Europe Zone".

In other words, Pay As You Go customers will have to pay for roaming in these locations, although O2's Pay Monthly and Business customers won't.

This might tarnish the lustre of O2's announcement somewhat, especially since the removal of roaming charges in Europe isn't really something they've voluntarily decided to introduce as a unique selling point, but is rather simply a case of them announcing that they will indeed be playing by the rules.

Brief history lesson

Still, this removal represents considerable improvement compared to the situation in 2008, when the imposition of caps by the EU meant that phone companies couldn't charge more than an additional 24.5p for calls, 46p for one MB of data, and 8.1p for a text.

At the moment, operators can charge no more than an extra €0.05 per minute for calls, €0.02 for an SMS, and €0.05 for a MB of data, caps which have been in place since April 30th, 2016.

While these rates already aren't very steep, their complete removal will mean that customers will have much greater liberty in using their phones as normal when travelling through Europe.

In theory, this would remove one obstacle in the way of greater cross-border movement and population intermixing (i.e., in the way of one of the EU's "four freedoms" - the free movement of labour).

Of course, with the arrival of Brexit the rationale for this removal has been undermined somewhat, leaving mobile phone customers with the prospect of paying potentially higher domestic bills for a "digital single market" of which they can't fully take advantage.

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