For over a decade, the European Commission (EC) has worked to reduce surcharges imposed by telecom operators on citizens of the European Union (EU) that are visiting different states within the EU. As a result, roaming charges have decreased dramatically by 90% since 2007. The EC and European Parliament has now agreed to go one step further by ending roaming charges for those that travel periodically within the EU.
Dubbed Roam Like at Home (RLAH), from June 2017 EU residents will pay domestic prices irrespective of where they are travelling to or from, so long as it is within the EU. The new law will have a “fair usage” concession, meaning that consumers can only take advantage of the agreement for 30 consecutive days and for a total 90 days throughout the year.
However, it looks like UK mobile customers may only benefit from the end of roaming charges up until the spring of 2019, at which point the country is expected to exit the EU. It is hoped that the major networks will continue to adhere to this new EU roaming legislation post Brexit, but uncertainty continues and many providers are adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach.
Should no agreement be found between the British government and European legislators, it is likely that British travellers will face applicable charges of €0.05 per minute for calls, €0.02 for texts and €0.05 per MB of internet data.
While consumers may welcome the news, some resellers have seen the moves to cut premiums for roaming as potentially damaging, removing a lucrative revenue stream. This could potentially lead to operators across Europe putting their investments on hold.
Many industry experts hold an alternative view, believing there should be enough money in the system for continuing maintenance and upgrading of networks despite this loss in revenue. The mobile industry has been preparing for RLAH for some time and, therefore, should face no great upheaval following implementation in June 2017.
What Are The Next Steps?
Before RLAH is fully implemented, the European Parliament must formally approve the agreed wholesale roaming prices that will be applicable as of 15 June 2017.
The wholesale caps proposed are:
- 3.2 cents per minute of voice call, as of 15 June 2017
- 1 cent per SMS, as of 15 June 2017
- A step by step reduction over five years for data caps decreasing from:
– €7.7 per GB as of 15 June 2017
– €6 per GB as of 1 January 2018
– €4.5 per GB as of 1 January 2019
– €3.5 per GB as of 1 January 2020
– €3 per GB as of 1 January 2021
– €2.5 per GB as of 1 January 2022
Union Street Technologies will continue to monitor the situation up until implementation and will update with any further developments or changes to legislation prior to the launch in June.