INTUG Concerned About the Regulation for the Elimination of Roaming Charges in Europe

INTUG is concerned about potential loopholes in the European Commission’s implementation of the regulation to eliminate international roaming charges within the EU by mid-2017.

The regulation came into effect on November 26, but successfully eliminating the charges will require a number of technical measures, first by the Commission and later by the European Parliament and the Council.

The European Commission has therefore launched a public consultation on implementation.
The wording of the consultation has a major set of potential loopholes (see excerpt from communication below). INTUG and its members are particularly concerned by the third item, which allows operators to make a ‘sustainability’ argument that their survival depends on continuing to apply charges (see the summary of the items provided below).

Roaming charges run counter to an Open Internet with fixed and mobile access for international trade, free from cross-border tariff surcharges. It is also clear that mobile operators have recognized that this particular issue has been very damaging to their public image.

There are also implications for Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs), which must be both reduced and harmonized more throughout the EU, to enable the wholesale caps to be decreased sufficiently.

Excerpt from the consultation:
"The end of roaming as of June 2017 throughout the EU will be secured via an obligation imposed to operators of mobile telecommunications not to levy any surcharge in addition to the domestic retail price on a roaming customer in any Member State for any roaming call made or received, for any roaming SMS message sent and for any data roaming services used.

This is subject to fair use policy and to an exceptional sustainability mechanism.
In that context, this public consultation serves three quite distinct (but interlinked) purposes.

First, it will gather input for the wholesale roaming review in order to assess the functioning of roaming markets in the EU and the current regulation of national wholesale roaming markets in the EU against the obligation laid down in the Regulation to abolish retail roaming surcharges by 15 June 2017. This is with a view to possible legislative proposals to the European Parliament and the Council.

Second, the Commission must lay down detailed rules on the application of fair use policy by the end of 2016, the public consultation seeks views on which detailed rules are needed for the application of fair use policies to the consumption of roaming services at domestic prices.

Third, the Commission must also lay down detailed rules, by the end of 2016, on the sustainability mechanism in a context where roaming services are offered at domestic prices. The public consultation seeks views on the most appropriate content and design of the methodology for assessing whether the abolition of retail roaming surcharges would undermine the sustainability of the domestic price model of a given operator.”

INTUG will continue to present the user arguments for the complete elimination of the charges throughout the EU, and indeed, ultimately, globally.
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You can find the consultation here.

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