For UK residents traveling to Norway or Iceland, there will soon be a cap on mobile roaming charges as part of a recent trade agreement between the countries.
Last July, the UK signed a free trade agreement with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, a triumvirate of markets notable for not being members of the European Union (EU), but members of the neighboring European Economic Area (EEA), which is essentially expands the EU single market to several additional countries that are members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
UK after Brexit
Residents of the EU and EEA have been able to use their domestic data, voice and SMS packages across the region since new roaming pricing rules came into effect in 2017, which are a game-changer for both leisure and business travellers. . However, following its official exit from the EU in January 2020, these rules no longer applied to UK residents, and the decision to charge a deductible to those traveling abroad remains with the individual mobile networks. While some networks have vowed not to change anything, the reality is that most of them have reintroduced some form of charge or cap – meanwhile, the EU recently committed to not paying roaming charges for another ten years.
So against this backdrop, Britain’s latest announcement is likely to be met with something like a cold shrug. It’s also worth noting that the agreement doesn’t necessarily eliminate roaming charges entirely, as it simply “caps” charges – no information was provided on what those caps would be.
The law stemming from this agreement is not expected to be passed until next year, after which the UK said it plans to “work with mobile operators to ensure the savings generated by this cap are passed on to consumers”.
A curious omission in all of this is the Principality of Liechtenstein, which, although part of the free trade agreement signed last year, does not really appear in this roaming agreement. The reason seems to be due to the fact that Liechtenstein is not a party to “mobile roaming regulations due to their bandwidth”. The UK is keen to indicate that this may change in the future. So it’s something.