Virgin Mobile unsure how roaming deal will work out post-Brexit

Telecoms provider offering customers 5.5GB roaming data per month under EU policy

In line with EU rules, Virgin Mobile is offering customers a 5.5GB data roaming usage per month but, the company couldn’t offer clarity on whether that would still apply in the UK in 23 months’ time. Photograph: iStock

In line with EU rules, Virgin Mobile is offering customers a 5.5GB data roaming usage per month but, the company couldn’t offer clarity on whether that would still apply in the UK in 23 months’ time. Photograph: iStock

 

Virgin Mobile can’t guarantee customers roaming in the United Kingdom will be able to retain their data allowance after the country leaves the European Union despite offering those customers 5.5 gigabytes (GB) of roaming data per month up until that point.

“Nobody knows” what will happen when the UK formally exits the EU in April 2019, a media briefing heard on Wednesday.

The significance of this lack of clarity is that one of Virgin’s more popular plans requires customers to sign up to a 24-month contract and, until the UK leaves the EU, those customers will be able to use their roaming allowance in the UK. However, Virgin couldn’t say whether those customers will still enjoy that allowance in 23 months’ time.

Roam at home policy

Virgin’s 5.5GB offering comes on the back of the EU’s “roam like at home” policy which means that EU telecoms customers should pay domestic rates when travelling within the union.

The company’s most popular plan offers unlimited data to consumers at home but restricts consumer data usage to 5.5GB per month when those consumers travel within the EU. Any usage above 5.5GB per month will incur charges of €7.70 per gigabyte. But, Virgin maintains that its customers won’t feel pinched by the 5.5GB limit on the basis that those customers only use 2.7GB of data per month on average. The telecoms provider has chosen not to impose any restrictions on texts or phone calls.

Commenting on the EU policy, the Virgin spokesman said that the company is taking on all of the costs associated with the customer roaming deal. He described those costs as “significant”.

Backtracked

Last week, Three Ireland backtracked on plans to dramatically restrict free data roaming for its customers travelling abroad. Under the company’s new plan Three bill-pay customers will get a free fair-usage data-roaming allowance of 6GB-7GB, depending on the subscriber’s home package.

Virgin, which entered the Irish market in 2015, is a relatively small player here and had 28,000 customers in the first quarter of 2017. Virgin’s spokesman said that the company was “comfortable” with that performance.