Friday, 23 June 2017

EU roaming charges finally scrapped

By Nick Wood, Total Telecom
Thursday 15 June 17

Long-awaited arrival of roam-like-at-home does not spell the end of the roaming debate.

The European Union on Thursday heralded the long-awaited abolition of retail mobile roaming charges. From today, consumers travelling within the EU will pay the same rate for voice, messaging and data that they do in their home country. "The end of roaming charges is a true European success story…

The European Union on Thursday heralded the long-awaited abolition of retail mobile roaming charges.

From today, consumers travelling within the EU will pay the same rate for voice, messaging and data that they do in their home country.

"The end of roaming charges is a true European success story," said a joint statement from the European Council, Commission, and Parliament.

"It has been a long time coming, with many actors involved. By working closely together, the European Union has delivered a concrete, positive result for European citizens. We are proud that the EU has put an end to very high roaming prices and thankful to those who showed the determination to overcome the many challenges and pursue this goal."

It marks the culmination of a 10-year campaign kick-started by former EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding, who pushed telcos to lower the cost of using mobile services abroad by introducing increasingly lower caps on retail and wholesale roaming tariffs.

"Over the last 10 years, our institutions have been working hard together to fix this market failure. Each time a European citizen crossed an EU border, be it for holidays, work, studies or just for a day, they had to worry about using their mobile phones and a high phone bill from the roaming charges when they came home," the EU said. "Roaming charges will now be a thing of the past."

While retail roaming rates are a thing of the past, wholesale roaming rates are not. Telcos must find a way to cover the cost of providing roam-like-at-home services, either by making savings elsewhere in the business, raising prices, or finding a new source of revenue altogether.
 
"Some will roll out new 'more for more' data plans, that are more expensive than previous plans but which offer subscribers more data to use," suggested Bengt Nordstrom, CEO of Swedish telco consultancy Northstream, in a research note.

The EU took a somewhat unrepentant standpoint on this matter.

"Operators have had two years to prepare for the end of roaming charges, and we are confident that they will seize the opportunities the new rules bring to the benefit of their customers," the EU said.

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