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Tesco Mobile scraps roaming fees in 31 European countries for the summer

Charges on data, text and calls will cost no more than they would if you were in the UK, the supermarket-turned-network says. But the deal ends in September.

Tesco Mobile will temporarily scrap European roaming charges in 31 European countries, ahead of EU regulations that order networks to cap fees when customers use their phones abroad.

The supermarket says that customers on its network, which runs on O2's infrastructure, will be able to use data, calls and texts in 31 European countries without fear of incurring extra charges. Spain, France and Germany are among the countries in which roaming charges will be scrapped. If you've used up your minutes, text or data allowance, expect to be charged the same out-of-bundle rates that you would be in the UK.

The bad news is the measures are temporary. Tesco Mobile's Home from Home deal will only kick in on 23 May, and charges will come back into effect from 11:59 p.m. on 3 September.

"We wanted to ensure customers could relax and not worry about holiday phone bills and summer is the time they need it most," Tesco Mobiles said in a statement. "Of course we'll also be complying with reduced charges after summer and will be introducing free roaming in 2017."

Indeed, roaming charges in Europe are on the way out across the board. In October last year, EU politicians voted to kill roaming charges across the EU by 15 June 2017. Tesco's move comes ahead of an interim rule, which means networks must cap their roaming rates from 30 April this year.

"Tesco Mobile piggybacks off O2's network, so if it can offer free roaming in 31 countries, it makes you wonder why O2 doesn't," said Ernest Doku, mobile analyst at Uswitch.com.

"Customers must be careful they don't get caught out by this time limited offer which only stands until 3 September," Doku said. "We hope Tesco Mobile will be communicating this properly to customers via both text and email to ensure there's no confusion."

The full list of countries that will be free to roam are listed below:

  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Poland
  • Belgium
  • Greece
  • Portugal
  • Bulgaria
  • Hungary
  • Romania
  • Croatia
  • Ireland
  • Slovakia
  • Cyprus
  • Italy
  • Slovenia
  • Czech Republic
  • Latvia
  • Spain (including Canary Islands)
  • Denmark
  • Lithuania
  • Sweden
  • Estonia
  • Luxembourg
  • Iceland
  • Finland
  • Malta
  • Liechtenstein
  • France
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Switzerland

Update 12.55 p.m. UK: Added statement from Tesco on why the deal is temporary.