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EU data roaming: How UK networks price data for Brits Abroad

Who's in charge of EU data roaming costs?

Latest news for EU data roaming chargesFalling mobile roaming costs are a gift from the European Commission, which in 2012 set strict caps across Europe that get cheaper every summer (July 1, to be specific).

From July 2014, you'll also get a choice of mobile operators when you land in any European Union country, encouraging them to compete for your data with cheaper tariffs.

Euro commissioner Neelie Kroes has also set a €50 (£43) spending cap to prevent 'bill shock' - your operator has to send you a warning when you're close to the limit, and then cuts your data unless you tell it to let you keep downloading.

Ultimately, Kroes wants data roaming rates removed altogether, although that might be a step too far for the operators, who want to promise their shareholders a return for investing in 4G networks.

While we look forward to the headache of compiling that buying guide, here's where you'll find the latest rates from the UK's providers for travelling in Europe, and news about developments in mobile data roaming around Europe.

EU data roaming: How UK networks price data for Brits Abroad
EU data roaming: How UK networks price data for Brits Abroad

EU data roaming charges: what they cost today

The EU has a fixed data roaming cap of €0.45/MB (38p/MB) until June 30, 2014, after which it will plummet to just €0.20/MB (17p/MB). 

Most of the networks have also created their own travel offers and bundles which may cost less, although it can be tricky to compare bundles to the official Euro rate. Offering these bundles exempts them from the official cap, so beware of generous-looking bundles. As you'll see, they're not always a good idea.

Subscribing to certain bundles will also exempt you from the €50 spending warning, which could again lead to unpleasant surprises.

We've highlighted the best-value bundles from each provider.

EE

EE offers a choice of data roaming add-ons: when you switch on you'll be directed to landing page where you can buy one.

There are two sets of bundles, for those who do and don't have roaming included in their 4GEE plan, but there's no basic per-MB roaming rate.

4GEE plans with roaming

Lasts for Allowance Price Price/MB
24 hours 2MB £0.50 25p
24 hours 100MB £2.00 2p
7 days 250MB £12.50 5p
30 days 1GB £25 2.5p

4GEE plans without roaming

All bundles last for 30 days or until your allowance is used up. None of these are cheaper than the official EU rate.

Allowance Price Price/MB
3MB £1 33.3p
10MB £2.50 25p
50MB £10 20p
100MB £18 18p
200MB £35 17.5p

O2

Pay Monthly and pay as you go customers can choose O2 Travel, which costs £1.99 for 15MB for 24 hours. That's a rate of 13.3p/MB. If you need more data, you'll also pay 7p for texting MoreData to 23336.

We say 'choose', but if you don't take O2 Travel, the standard O2 European data rate is 46p/MB, almost three times the official European data cap.

Orange

Orange offers a range of bundles to escape the punishing standard Orange European data rate of 45.9p/MB, almost three times the official European data cap.

Pay monthly

Lasts for Allowance Price Price/MB
24 hours 20MB £1 5p
24 hours 100MB £3 3p
30 days 150MB £50 33.3p
30 days 500MB £150 30p

Pay as you go

Orange PAYG customers get just one choice other than the standard Orange EU rate of 45p/MB: 10MB for 30 days for £3 (30p/MB). How is this even allowed?

Three

Three's EU roaming rates deserve a prize for being simple and affordable.

Three's standard European roaming rate is a decent 10p/MB, but also operates the Feel At Home tariff which operates automatically if you're in Austria, Denmark, Italy, the Republic of Ireland and Sweden (as well as Australia and Hong Kong).

Feel At Home extends your UK tariff and allowances to these countries, although All You Can Eat data tariffs will have a 25GB monthly usage cap.

Pay Monthly customers travelling elsewhere in Europe can also buy the Euro Internet Pass for £5/day, which gives unlimited internet access until midnight in 29 countries (not including Switzerland).

T-Mobile

You'll have to buy a data bundle to roam in the EU - there's no standard rate to compare to the European cap. If you exceed your bundle, then you'll get no more data.

Pay monthly

There are two 24-hour packages, of 20MB for £1 (5p/MB) or 100MB for £3 (3p/MB).

Pay as you go

A 30-day bundle with 50MB for £10 (20p/MB).

Vodafone

Pay monthly

Vodafone charges data users £8 for 100MB/day (8p/MB), compared to a standard EU roaming rate of 45.9p/MB.

Alternatively, the Euro Traveller tariff lets you use your UK allowance in Europe for £3/day, with no upper usage ceiling (but it will turn off the automatic spending limit).

Pay as you go

Just enough to check your email: 58p for the first 4.9MB (11.8p/MB), then £1.69 up to 25MB (8.4p). After that, a whopping 45p/MB.

Latest news for EU data roaming charges

Our original 2012 Euro data roaming guide (1/6/12):

A month today is when mobile networks in Europe will be required to scale back the costs of data roaming for holidaymakers across the continent. Technically, networks won’t be able to charge any higher than 70 cents (roughly 55p) for 1MB of data.

We’ve taken a look at the main UK networks to see how they’ve priced everything for the coming summer at the moment.

In many cases, looking at prices for bundles of data which you buy beforehand, prices are lower than the 55p per 1MB cap.

But where there are out of bundle costs, costs rise sharply, in most cases above £3 per 1MB. Speaking to representatives at networks, we’ve been told to expect these prices to change before the 1st of July.

But if you’re among the millions who are getting away from the Jubilee this weekend, here’s what you can expect to pay:

O2

With O2 Travel, you’ll be charged £1.99 for using data abroad, up to 25MB a day. This will give you a couple of hours of browsing and Facebook time.

In terms of price breakdown, this works out at about 7p per 1MB if you want to look at it that way. You’ll still have to pay £1.99 a day, however much you use though.

This will either be added to your bill at the end of the month, or come out of your credit if you’re on O2 Pay & Go. So you’d maybe want to top-up beforehand if you’re a pay-as-you-go customer.

EU data roaming: How UK networks price data for Brits Abroad

O2 out of bundle data roaming costs for Europe

Out of bundle data costs for O2 are a bit more expensive. You’ll be charged £3.07 per 1MB or £3 per 1MB if you’re on Pay Monthly or Pay & Go.

O2 will stop charging you for data if your usage hits a £40 barrier, but you can extend this up to £120 (200MB) if you want.

If all you want to do is upload the occasional picture to Facebook on O2, then the £1.99 O2 Travel bundle is a good value deal. For anything heavier than this or checking the odd email, you’re looking at paying a lot for the privilege.

Orange

Orange’s bundle deals for travelling within the EU mean you can save a bit when you’re on the Continent. Pay Monthly customers can pick from four bundle deals detailed here:

£3 a day gets you 30MB, which will cover you for a good three hours browsing the web, checking social networks and uploading pics. It’s a pound more expensive than O2’s daily rate but you get an extra 5GB for your money.

Orange’s £15 monthly deal gives you the same amount of data - 30MB - as the daily deal. While it doesn’t seem as good a deal at a glance, you’ve got all month to make use of it. It’s more useful for checking the odd email and message, and less suited to intensive Facebooking.

EU data roaming: How UK networks price data for Brits Abroad

For those with deeper pockets, there’s the option to shell out £50 for a hefty 150MB monthly bundle. This will pretty much cover you for a month’s worth of general web browsing and status updating.

If you really, really want some serious Factor 50+ data, then Orange has a £150 for 500MB bundle. This is a monthly deal again and is for those who think that taking the laptop is as essential as swimming shorts and sun cream.

For Orange pay-as-you-go customers, £5 gets you 4MB of data to use over a month. Though not tailored for heavy use, it’s a third cheaper than the nearest Pay Monthly equivalent bundle and gets you 1MB more to boot.

Orange out of bundle data roaming costs for Europe

Out of bundle costs for Orange Pay Monthly works out at £3.07 per 1MB - slightly more than the daily 30MB deal for one 30th of the use.

Pay-as-you-go punters get hit a little harder - rates are charged at £4 per 1MB.

T-Mobile

With T-Mobile’s Euro Broadband Boosters, £1 will basically get you 3MB of data for simple web browsing and email checking and will last about 15 minutes.

For a bit more intensive web-time, you can pay £5 for 20MB, or around two hours of access to the web including social networks.

To get a full day’s worth of web use on the continent, £10 for 50MB will see you through the day, enough for uploading a fun holiday snap to Facebook or Flickr if you can’t wait to get home.EU data roaming: How UK networks price data for Brits Abroad

If you really really can’t unplug from the web when you’re on holiday (really?!) then the top tier £40 for 200MB package is for you.

T-Mobile’s site says you can buy as much or as little as you want but “you'll know exactly what you're paying,” and you’ll be in control of that at all times. In order to use a booster, either use your phone as normal (if you’re on contract), top up (if you’re on pay-as-you-go) or if you’re using Mobile Broadband, log in to your account and you should see a screen offering you options.

T-Mobile out of bundle data roaming costs for Europe

There aren’t any. T-Mobile’s site says that: “Internet on your phone will not work in Europe unless you buy a Booster. This means that you cannot run up large bills without knowing... There are no run on rates. You can buy another Booster when either the time expires or you reach the Booster allowance. So you can’t run up a big bill without knowing it.”

If you try to access the net abroad without a booster from your phone or via your T-Mobile dongle, you’ll instead be taken to a page where you can purchase a new Booster.

No word on whether or not this policy will change after the 1st of July just yet.

EU data roaming: How UK networks price data for Brits AbroadThree

Three currently doesn’t offer and bundle deals up front for data use within the EU. We’ve contacted Three for more information on exactly how prices break down for customers and why there are no bundles and we’re waiting to hear back.

Until then, check out our breakdown of Three’s out of bundle charges below.

Three out of bundle data roaming costs for Europe

Currently, Three’s standard roaming rates for the EU works out at £1.28 per 1MB.

Three has also set a price limit of £43 - which works out at roughly 33MB’s worth - after which you won’t be charged any more, unless you specifically ask Three for more data.

Mobile users will need to call +44 7782 333 330 from a Three phone, while mobile broadband users will need to email EUdataroaming[at]3mail[dot]com, from the email address used to set up your My3 account.

Vodafone

Vodafone has separate data plans; one for phones and one for laptop/iPad/tablet users. For phones, Vodafone Data Traveller works out at £2 a day for 25MB for use in Europe, regardless of whether you’re a Pay Monthly or pay-as-you-go customer.

As well as this, you’ve got the option to go for a £10 monthly deal giving you the same usage instead. If you’re using Vodafone mobile broadband with your laptop, iPad or tablet then you can instead pay £8 for 100MB a day.

EU data roaming: How UK networks price data for Brits Abroad

Vodafone out of bundle data roaming costs for Europe

Out of bundle data rates for Europe on Vodafone work out at £1 per 1MB, up to a 5MB, and then £5 per 5MB thereafter.

EU data roaming: How UK networks price data for Brits Abroad

Note that all of these prices are for data at the moment - we’ll update this piece with more info on price changes as and when.

Main image credit: Flickr user Michael Gwyther-Jones

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