O2 has announced to its customers that it will be introducing a fair usage cap of 25GB when roaming in the EU from August.
Some reports have suggested that this is the first step towards the end of tariff-free roaming but, in reality, this move by O2 should not have you worried and will not affect most customers.
O2's announcement does not mean you can't use your bundle in EU countries. It states that customers on tariffs higher than 25GB will have to pay a surcharge to access more data - currently £3.50 per GB. Customers on tariffs below that will be able to use all their data as normal and will have to buy data bolt-ons if they wish to access more.
To keep you informed, O2 will send two texts - one when close to the limit (usually around 80%) and another once you have reached the limit. In truth, this shouldn't affect too many customers. O2 told Which:
'Less than 1% of our Pay Monthly customers reach anywhere near 25GB during occasional travel to Europe. If a customer's UK monthly data allowance is over 25GB, from August 2 they will have a Roaming Limit of 25GB in our Europe Zone. We'll text them if they get close to the limit, and again if they reach it.'
If you are affected and wish to leave, O2 says that you can do so without paying any early termination fees. This means that you could use this opportunity to switch away if you were looking to but were stuck in a long-term contract before this announcement. You would have to pay off any remaining balance on a device in order to leave.
This change from O2 isn't unusual. Vodafone actually made a similar change in February, introducing a 25GB cap to new or upgrading customers, with customers on higher data tariff subject to a slightly cheaper surcharge of £3.13 per GB.
The table below shows how O2's fair usage policy compares to a select number of different mobile networks. All surcharges below are subject to a £45 cap, so you will never pay more than £45 a month for roaming unless you request to remove the cap.
|Selected Providers||Fair Usage Policy|
|O2||25GB a month; £3.50 per GB above that|
|EE||50GB a month; £3.60 per 10MB above that|
|Vodafone||25GB a month; £3.13 per GB above that|
|Three||20GB a month; £3 per GB above that|
|Giffgaff||20GB a month; £3.60 per GB above that|
|Smarty||12GB a month; must top-up above that|
As you can see, O2's change largely puts it in line with others in the mobile network market as opposed to being something outside of the norm.
Currently, roaming is largely based on reciprocal agreements between networks in different countries, or the network having a large presence in a roaming country itself (such as Vodafone in Italy).
Which? will continue to monitor the behaviour of mobile networks, including roaming policies, in order to ensure consumers are getting the best deal possible.
If you're travelling further afield, you'll need to pay close attention to roaming charges to ensure you're not hit with an unexpected bill.