Light Reading

Regulators Reshape Europe's Roaming Market

Michelle Donegan
LR Mobile News Analysis
Michelle Donegan

The European Commission on Wednesday proposed new regulation that would force mobile operators to open their networks to other service providers as a way of introducing competition and reducing prices in the mobile roaming market in Europe. (See EC Proposes More Data Roaming Cuts.)

The proposal comes just days after new roaming price caps came into effect across the region, and it is the most radical move the European policymaker has made to bring down the cost of using voice, SMS and data services while abroad. (See EU Roaming Prices Cut Again.)

Under the new proposal, from July 1, 2014, users will be able to subscribe to a cheaper international roaming service from an alternative provider while using the same SIM card and mobile telephone number they have with their national provider in their home market. To achieve this, the EC will mandate that mobile operators must provide access to their networks on a regulated wholesale basis to any potential alternative roaming service providers. The proposed regulation will also introduce a retail price cap for data roaming for the first time, which will be set at €0.90 (US$1.30) per megabyte from July 1, 2012 and fall to €0.50 (US$0.70) per megabyte by July 2014. A wholesale data roaming price cap has been in place since July 2009.

Such structural measures will get at the root cause of "roaming rip-offs, namely lack of competition," said Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission's Digital Agenda, during a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday.

Up to now, the European Commission's response to high roaming charges has been to introduce wholesale and retail price caps. But Kroes said these measures have only treated the symptoms of high prices.

"I'm sorry to say that we have been forced to conclude that the market has not moved on," said Kroes. "Competition is still very weak. Customers still get a raw deal when they cross borders. Operators still enjoy outrageous margins, particularly on data downloads."

One of the goals of the European Commission's Digital Agenda is for there to be virtually no difference between the cost of roaming and national tariffs by 2015.

The proposed regulation must be accepted by the European Council and European Parliament before it can come into force. Kroes said she hoped the regulation would be adopted before the current roaming rules expire, which is June 2012.

Why this matters
This regulation will hit European mobile operators hard. Not only will they have a new retail data roaming price cap to contend with, they will also have potentially much more competition for delivering international services.

It's also the most invasive approach the European Commission has proposed to combat the problem of high roaming charges. (See Euronews: EC's Kroes on the Warpath (Again).)

For more
International roaming tariffs have plagued the European mobile scene for years. And the issue of data roaming has kicked off in the U.S. as well:

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Michelle Donegan
Michelle Donegan,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:37:50 PM
re: Regulators Reshape Europe's Roaming Market

The EC's Neelie Kroes (aka Steely Neelie) made some progress on her plans for new roaming rules. A preliminary agreement has been reached with the EU Parliament and Council and they're expected to approve the new rules in May and June, respectively.


That means the new rules would come into force in July this year. 

So are mobile operators ready?


User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:00:04 PM
re: Regulators Reshape Europe's Roaming Market

It's about time the European Commission learnt some basic economics. Mobile operators are like any other business, and need to make a certain return on capital to attract continuing investment. Competition in the mobile industry is intense, and any margin lost on roaming charges will have to be recovered elsewhere.

Forcible reductions on roaming charges will lead to higher charges elsewhere, probably for domestic calls. It’s no coincidence that some leading beneficiaries of this measure will be expatriate Eurocrats working in Brussels- who make lots of roaming calls to family and friends- and who already benefit from fat salaries and favourable tax treatment. How dare the European Commission force ordinary consumers to subsidise these privileged bureaucrats.

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:59:33 PM
re: Regulators Reshape Europe's Roaming Market

So does this mean that North American subscribers will be able to choose between roaming providers when they travel to Europe or are they exempt because the home subscription is outside of the EU ?

I for one would welcome anything that reduces my wonderful $100 for 25MB ($4/MB) price gouge from my current service provider. Anything around a $1 looks very appealing !

No, I am not a Eurocrat on a fat salary, just a telco employee who has to travel for work and is tired of getting ripped off all the time. I'd welcome some price competition.

The reality is that the cost of airtime is the same between a roaming subscriber and a non-roaming subscriber. I'm not familiar with the inter-operator cost over GRX (but I suspect someone here is), but I doubt that the wholesale price is more than the retail price of the local market, which means that roaming subs are actually subsidising retail subs. Happy to be proved wrong if someone wants to shed more light on it :)

From The Founder
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
Centec on Ethernet Switching

11|26|15   |   09:58   |   (0) comments

Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (9) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (2) comments

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
SDN Management & Orchestration in the WAN

11|17|15   |   7.20   |   (0) comments

Carol Wilson and Packet Design CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu discuss CSPs' SDN service delivery and assurance requirements. Learn about a modular approach to building automated control, orchestration and management functions for the WAN that are policy- and analytics-driven.
LRTV Custom TV
Flash Networks: Optimizing for Radio Spectral Efficiency

11|17|15   |   3:34   |   (0) comments

Today most optimization vendors only focus on optimizing voice or data. Ofer Gottfried, Flash Networks' CTO, shows how improving data throughput and maximizing spectral efficiency reduces capital and operating expenses while also providing a platform for user engagement.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Pay-TV User Experiences Millennial-Friendly

11|16|15   |   6:42   |   (0) comments

The unique challenge of reaching and engaging Millennials is driving pay-TV video experience transformation that can include higher quality UIs, viewing of multiple content streams at once and seamless transitions between handheld devices and the television.
Allot MobileTrends Report H2/2015 reveals how daily online behavior can be used to discover smarter ways to profile customers and propose valuable, real-time offers to them.
Hot Topics
Samsung to Sell Wireless Networking Unit?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Samsung: No Sale of Wireless Unit
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/25/2015
Sprint, Verizon Face Reorganization, Job Cuts
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/20/2015
Sprint to Get $1.2B From New Leasing Venture
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
How Might Open Source Fail?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/24/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
Cats with Phones
Can't Find the Phone on Thanksgiving? Click Here
Check under the cat! (hint: bottom right)
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.