Summary:

British carriers are gradually letting their customers go fully high-speed when they cross borders within the European Union. Users are well-advised to make sure they’re signed up to a roaming plan, though, at least for now.

Vodafone racecar

The British carrier Vodafone has expanded the number of European countries in which its customers can use 4G while abroad. Having begun with Greece in March, the company added Spain, Italy and Portugal to that list on Friday.

So far, Vodafone and EE are the only U.K. operators to let users go fully high-speed while on the mainland, rather than keeping them on 3G. EE also started allowing this in March in regards to France and Spain, and it is working on roaming 4G/LTE in Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, as well as the U.S.

Of course, high-speed mobile broadband enables high-volume data usage. Vodafone customers expecting to use 4G while outside the U.K. would be well advised to sign up to the carrier’s EuroTraveller package, which charges £2 ($3.38) a day to let them use their domestic voice, text and data bundles.

If they don’t, they can expect to pay an eye-watering 45.9 pence ($0.77) per megabyte. That’s a far cry from the bad old days of well over a pound per megabyte for daring to leave your EU member state – a situation that preceded the European Commission’s efforts to drive down roaming rates — but still a lot of money when you’re thinking in 4G usage terms.

The Commission’s new, almost-passed rules will scrap roaming fees altogether within the European Union. At that point we should see users automatically able to use their domestic bundles abroad, becoming truly unafraid to turn on data when they cross the border.

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