Sunday, 11 April 2021

EU Commission weighs in on north–south roaming price clash

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Wednesday 24 February 21

The European Commission (EC) has proposed further price cuts to wholesale roaming tariffs

Today, the EC has proposed a new Roaming Regulation, seeking to further drive down roaming costs and extend existing regulations surrounding pricing and services.   Decreased wholesale price caps will be good news for some telcos and bad for others, with the distinction often resting on operator’s geographic position within Europe…

Today, the EC has proposed a new Roaming Regulation, seeking to further drive down roaming costs and extend existing regulations surrounding pricing and services.
 
Decreased wholesale price caps will be good news for some telcos and bad for others, with the distinction often resting on operator’s geographic position within Europe. 
 
Every year, millions of tourists from the north of Europe flood to countries in the south for their holidays. Operators in these southern countries argue that this influx of traffic puts a strain on their networks, thus wholesale price caps should be higher in order to accommodate their additional network investment. Meanwhile, the operators in the northern countries, whose customers go travelling, instead want the prices as low as possible.
 
The EC’s proposed regulations, however, said that the decreased wholesale price caps “reflect decreasing operators’ wholesale costs of providing roaming services”, suggesting 31% cut in the wholesale voice tariff next year, followed by a 13.6% reduction in 2025. Text message charges would be cut by 60% and 25% in 2022 and 2025, respectively.
 
The new measures proposed also aim to extend the existing regulations that forbid retail mobile roaming charges. These regulations were first introduced in 2017 and are due to expire in 2022; the EC hopes to extend this ban on additional charges for a further decade. The regulations also ensure that roaming customers are entitled to the same quality and speed of network that they pay for at home, if equivalent networks are available in their new location.
 
“Wherever we are in Europe, we can check in with our loved ones, talk business and share stories while on the road without worrying about costly bills,” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age. “The end of roaming charges is a prime example of how the EU keeps millions of citizens connected and improves their lives. The new rules will keep roaming at no extra charges and make it even better.”
 
European Commissioner Thierry Breton described roaming in Europe without additional charges as “an established and successful cornerstone of the single market”.
 
The loss of roaming revenues has been a huge thorn in the sides of operators throughout 2020, with operators around the world feeling the pressure caused by nations in lockdown.
 
 
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