UK covered by EU roaming regulations after European Parliament vote – but perhaps not after Brexit
The European Union has voted in favour of wholesale caps for voice, text and data services – paving the way for roaming to be abolished across the present 28 member states from 15 June this year.
The European Parliament, Council and Commission finalised regulations in February but the vote formally approves the agreement.
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.
The regulations will benefit the UK until it leaves the European Union (EU) – unless the government can secure coverage as per the terms of its departure agreement.
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 is a great achievement for all of us,” declared Andrus Ansip, VP for the digital single market. “Notwithstanding the final OK from Member States, this agreement on wholesale roaming prices will be the final step to end roaming charges for all travellers in the EU.
“After nearly ten years, the EU is now putting a definitive end to the roaming anxiety that has plagued Europe since the beginning of the mobile era. Exorbitant roaming prices were an anomaly in a continent where people move freely between countries.
“With the end of roaming charges for travellers, we will achieve a much more vibrant Digital Single Market. At last, people will be able to stop turning off their data or phones when they cross an EU border and this will have an immediate positive impact on the lives of Europeans.”
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
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, particularly Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs).
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