End of roaming: Unexpected side effects for consumers, business users and operators?

As of today, June 15, mobile users in Europe will in principle be able to "roam-like-at-home", under the EU new rules which abolish mobile roaming surcharges across the Union. MVNO Europe has always strongly supported the policy objective of "roam-like-at-home", and its members are looking forward to offering roaming free offers to their customers.

Yet, there might have unexpected side effects for consumers, business users and operators as wholesale regulated roaming caps still remain too high and could lead to competitive unbalances on the markets. Unfortunately, in this context we will not be surprised to see a number of operators applying and qualifying for derogations.

After years of intense negotiations, on the 15th of June, "roam-like-at-home" (RLAH) will come into force across the European Union. MVNO Europe has always strongly supported this policy objective of the European Commission and as MVNO Chair, Jacques Bonifay indicated "MVNOs have always played a crucial role in the past to reduce roaming costs for consumers and enterprises. The principle of offering RLAH is in MVNOs' DNA." Our members are ready to offer roaming to their customers at national prices, and many have already launched attractive RLAH offers in their respective markets.

However, we believe that in order to ensure fair market conditions for all players, the end of roaming needed to be accompanied by a strong decrease of wholesale roaming caps so as to better reflect the actual cost of international roaming. "Reducing wholesale caps is a simple measure that works to enable all operators to compete" said J. Bonifay. Today, RLAH is implemented with wholesale caps that are still too high compared to national wholesale pricing for most players in national markets and could cause significant problems for some operators. MVNO Europe has repeatedly flagged this risk to the European Institutions.

In this context, MVNO Europe will not be surprised to see in the future a number of operators applying, and qualifying for a derogation to the application of "roam-like-at-home", the so-called "sustainability mechanism", or even see national prices rise in some markets.

Our Vice-President Innocenzo Genna indicated "MVNOs are ready to punctually launch the RLAH regime. However, as we pointed out during the legislative process, the entire mechanism, in particular the wholesale caps, must be strongly revised to eliminate competitive unbalances that, at the end, would be detrimental for the consumer in terms of tariffs, variety of offers and innovation".

As an association, we call for the European Commission to conduct an in-depth analysis of the impact of the end of roaming surcharges on all market segments, including Internet of Things (IoT), ahead of the launch of the review of the wholesale roaming caps planned for December 2019 and ensure that the regulated caps reflect actual costs.

Pin It