By Dennis Jones
After years of negotiation and planning, the end of roaming fees in Europe, Roam Like Home, is finally here. From now on, mobile users in the EU won’t face roaming charges when traveling in Europe. However, they’ll still face charges outside of the EU.
By now, you’ve probably seen a lot about the “end of roaming fees.” But for mobile users on their door-to-door journey, it might still be too early to pop the champagne corks. That’s because some insiders are saying that “the EU has been overpromising” and under-delivering. Let’s go beyond the headlines and find out what the end of roaming fees really means for your business.
How much have roaming plans changed?
According to the rules, all plans, even those that used to cost an arm and a leg, now revert to roam like home prices. In other words, you pay the cost of your home plan even if you’re roaming abroad.
But there’s a big caveat.
Carriers can negotiate fair use policies, which effectively limit roaming subscribers from high bandwidth activity, like downloading large data files and video streaming.
If data-hungry subscribers go beyond fair use limits, they pay – potentially, a lot. Here’s how much:
- Up to a max of 7.70 euros per GB of data + VAT
- 3.2 cents per minute of talk + VAT
- One cent per text + VAT
Are domestic unlimited plans still unlimited abroad?
Not necessarily. Carriers don’t have to honor their domestic unlimited plans when subscribers travel abroad. Carriers do have to provide “large volumes of data” to subscribers, but those data allotments are contingent on the price of your plan.
Can I roam forever?
It may sound silly, but regulators have considered the possibility that subscribers will stay abroad more than they do at home. If that happens, carriers will get in touch with their subscribers to see what’s going on, so as to ensure that those subscribers aren’t in violation of fair use of roaming services policies.
That’s because it’s in a carrier’s best interest to make sure their subscribers stay on-network. When you stay on your home network, your carrier doesn’t have to pay a rival carrier so you can roam on their network. According to European Commission estimates, carriers stand to lose 1.2 billion euros as a result of the implementation of Roam Like Home.
Can carriers abstain from the new “end of roaming fees” ruling?
Yes, they can. If a carrier can demonstrate that abiding with Roam Like Home will prove a financial hardship that carrier will be exempted from the new regulations. Specifically, operators are allowed to apply surcharges if losses linked to roaming surpass three percent of annual net profit. Industry analysts speculate that smaller networks operators, especially in the Nordics and Baltics, are most likely to take advantage of this policy loophole.
What about Brexit?
For now, Britain is participating in Roam Like Home. But Brexit puts continuing participation in doubt.