EU Parliament Votes to End Roaming
Earlier this month, the European Parliament voted to end mobile phone roaming fees by 2016 in the EU. Neelie Kroes stated “this is what the EU is all about - getting rid of barriers to make life easier and less expensive. We should know what we are buying, we should not be ripped off, and we should have the opportunity to change our mind”. The ETNO, whose 38 members include Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica and Telecom Italia, has termed the parliamentary vote to be ‘anti-telco and in the wrong direction’. The EU roaming regulation adopted over the years has established price caps on mobile tariffs and an automatic safeguard against data roaming bill shocks and for price transparency. The outcome of this new regulation is to improve competition and investment in mobile networks, along with increased usage by consumers. While these regulations will further help consumers, it is in a way inhibiting the revenue growth for the mobile operators whose profit margins are already declining, especially for voice. As we noted previously in our mobile roaming release, the implementation of the ‘Connected Continent’ roaming regulation will lead to a temporary plateauing of the data revenue or even a reduction in overall revenues. Consequently, this could mean that the roaming fees outside the EU are likely to remain expensive in a bid to recoup their losses. In addition, a coalition of operators has already warned that domestic tariffs for European consumers would increase and that ‘non-roaming customers might effectively foot the bill for roaming customers’. The proposed changes still need to be approved by the European Council of Ministers before they become the law.