Vodafone to bring back roaming charges for UK customers in January

Different types of 4G, 5G and data radio relay antennas for mobile phone networks are pictured on a relay mast operated by Vodafone in Berlin, Germany April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo/File Photo

LONDON, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Mobile phone operator Vodafone (VOD.L) said on Monday it would reintroduce European roaming fees for new and upgrading British customers in January, following the lead set by rival EE (BT.L).

Roaming charges were completely abolished in the European Union in 2017, saving holidaymakers and business travellers millions of pounds a year in total additional fees for using their smartphones outside Britain.

But fee-free roaming was not protected in the Brexit agreement Britain signed with the EU.

Vodafone's UK Chief Executive Ahmed Essam said the majority of its customers were not regular roamers - fewer than half roamed beyond Ireland in 2019 - and they were paying for something they didn't use.

"So we think it's fairer to give people more choice over what they pay for, either opting into a price plan that includes free roaming, or paying for roaming only when they roam," he said.

Eight and 15 day passes would be available at 1 pound per day, Vodafone said, adding that roaming would remain inclusive in the Republic of Ireland for all customers.

All major operators said after the Brexit referendum they had no plans to reintroduce the charges.

EE, however, said in June it would reintroduce the charges for new and upgrading customers from January. read more

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Sarah Young

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