They said it would never happen. It did.
Three is the latest network to alter its roaming offering, after saying for years it wouldn’t. It probably doesn’t come as much of a shock to most of many.
This means that Go Roam, which was offered to subscribers on all plans (Advanced and Essential) for use within Europe, has now changed.
From October 1st, anyone signing up with Three (or upgrading) will have to pay roaming charges from next year (May 23rd) with a £2 charge per day within the EU and £5 per day elsewhere.
You’ll still get to use your allowances as now (subject to fair use policies and caps), but now with that extra charge – which could soon add up for your 7 or 14 day holiday in the sun, short city breaks and business trips.
Only a muppet would believe that nothing would change by leaving the EU, whereby networks here became liable to pay wholesale rates that had been abolished to member states, which of course we no longer are.
However, Three is perhaps the first to introduce charges beyond the EU too.
With increased costs, it is no surprise that EE and Vodafone have already gone against their initial ‘promises’ not to increase rates (note in diary; most only ever said they ‘had no plans’ to change things). Well, guess what, none had any plans to change things, until they did.
Three was one network that did, repeatedly, boast that it would never change things. First it did by lowering the amount of data you could use within the EU, and now this.
Update: (as per the statement below), Three has explained its reasoning by saying: “we had hoped to retain this benefit, but unfortunately there are now too many unknowns, which has made it commercially unviable for us to continue.”
Oh – and if you’re thinking of just sticking with your existing plan, just remember that it was Three that first began kicking people off old plans and forcing them to leave or sign up to a new contract with revised terms and conditions.
Suffice to say, at some point you’re accepting this new arrangement whether you like it or not.
The original Go Roam terms
..This is a developing story and more information and clarifications will be added as soon as possible.
Update: Pay as you Go is currently unaffected, although you do need to add the relevant pack to benefit from Go Roam.
Update 2: It seems the mainstream press has only really reported on changes to EU roaming, seemingly failing to notice the changes to roaming in the rest of the world. Why is this significant? Well, other networks offer roaming beyond the EU and this change could well start the ball rolling on changes there too. As such, roaming is about to get more expensive for everyone, wherever you travel.
Update 3: The BBC has now reported on the changes with comments from O2 and Sky Mobile. Clearly ‘no plans’ is not something to be reassured about!
“Hey, it’s no biggie – just get another SIM when you go abroad”
This is a common retort, but let’s be realistic – getting another SIM, potentially for every individual country you visit, really isn’t a practical solution. In fact, it’s a terrible solution.
From having to source a SIM in advance (and pay through the nose), or finding a shop or vending machine at the airport (also paying through the nose), or perhaps seeking a phone store on your first day instead of doing whatever you went to that country to do, isn’t fun.
There’s the potential issue of upfront fees, a requirement to sign up to a 30 day contract and then have to later cancel to avoid ongoing charges, paying for more than you need and ending up with credit you may not be able to get refunded, as well as some countries requiring you to be a resident. Good luck getting around that one.
eSIMs may allow more flexibility, but why should any of us consider having to find things like this to avoid enjoying what we previously had for little to no cost?
Wi-Fi isn’t a good alternative either. Sure, you can use it to communicate via the many instant messaging apps – making calls that way – but seeking out congested Wi-Fi hotspots, with the associated security risks, likely speed capping or just poor speed in the first place, and a lack of mobility now you’re tethered to a single access point, makes this a horrid alternative.
We waited so long to enjoy the full benefits of roaming, and now we’re losing them bit by bit.
Three UK statement on roaming
From 23 May 2022 customers who have taken out a new contract or upgraded with Three from 1 October 2021 will pay a charge of £2 per day when roaming within the EU and £5 a day when roaming outside the EU. Pay as you go customers and customers who have taken out a contract before 1 October 2021 are unaffected by these changes. Customers roaming in the Republic of Ireland are also unaffected.
We know that Go Roam has always been important to our customers and we had hoped to retain this benefit, but unfortunately there are now too many unknowns, which has made it commercially unviable for us to continue. This includes variations to the underlying cost of roaming, meaning we now have no visibility over the maximum amount it will cost us to provide a service for our customers to use their phone while abroad.
We want to keep our roaming pricing as simple and affordable for customers as possible, and we think a flat charge of £2 in the EU and £5 outside the EU reflects this. It also means only those who roam will pay for the service, rather than customers who stay in the UK also absorbing this cost.
We are investing billions of pounds in improving our network and infrastructure and already offer some of the most cost-effective deals on the market – implementing a separate roaming fee will enable us to continue to do this.Three statement – September 9th