EU finalises wholesale regulations so roaming can end on 15 June 2017
The final barrier to the abolition of EU roaming charges has been overcome after the European Parliament, Council and Commission finalised regulations for wholesale mobile prices.
From 15 June, the cost of making calls, sending texts or accessing mobile data will be the same in any of the EU’s 28 present member states. The cost of roaming has come down more than 90 percent over the past decade following a number of interventions from the EU.
Mobile operators will be limited to charging their foreign counterparts 3.2 cents per voice call, 1 cent per SMS and €7.7 per GB of data – the cost of which will fall incrementally each year until it reaches €2.5GB in 2022.
European leaders say the development will benefit Europeans and allow for the creation of pan European telecoms services, including those for the Internet of Things (IoT).
“This was the last piece of the puzzle. As of 15 June, Europeans will be able to travel in the EU without roaming charges,” declared Andrus Ansip, president for the European Digital Single Market.
“We have also made sure that operators can continue competing to provide the most attractive offers to their home markets. Today we deliver on our promise.”
The regulations have been opposed by the mobile industry, which fears a loss in revenue.
It is estimated that roaming revenues within the EU could fall by 28 percent from 2017, but Juniper Research says income will recover in the medium term once people start to become more comfortable using their phone abroad.
Other studies suggest fear of bill shock means many travellers turn roaming off and use Wi-Fi or even switch their phone off entirely when abroad, meaning no revenue is generated for operators. Some, most notably Three, have made inclusive roaming a feature of their contracts.
However some believe the caps are too high.
“As smaller operators and MVNOs pay wholesale access at the level of EU regulated caps, there is a high risk for these operators not being able to recover their costs,” said industry body MVNO Europe.
“This will have a direct effect on customers: the higher the wholesale caps are, the fewer there will be ‘Roam-like-at-home’ offers for consumers on the market using prepaid offers or unlimited bundles by virtue of art. 4.2. and 4.3. of the Fair Usage Regulation adopted last year in December.”
The regulations will apply to the UK at least until it leaves the EU following the vote to leave last June.