EU roaming tariffs: The 30-day countdown has begun

Tourists and travelers within the EU, as well as Lichtenstein, Norway and Iceland are expected to have one less thing to worry about this summer than the blood-curdling bill shock followed by fits of anger and frustration on the phone with your mobile operator. Instead of worrying about bill shock we are meant to feel relief and overall to be able to have a restful travel experience, safe in the knowledge that we can switch on data roaming on our mobile devices.

However, in recent weeks we took out our magnifying glass and started conducting some EU wide research of mobile operator offerings. We have been scanning the retail offers of large groups, smaller groups and independent mobile operators to see what they are offering, in advance of the regulation deadline, and we have come to an interesting conclusion.

From June 15th, 2017 roaming between the 28 EU member states and EEA doesn’t incur additional roaming charges. The same tariff conditions for the use of mobile services that you have at home will apply while roaming abroad. It has taken MNOs and regulators 10 years to come to this point but roamers will feel much more likely to switch on data roaming than ever before, if they watch out for the small print.

However, our research shows, mobile operators are reluctant to offer regulated plans before June 15th. There are roaming offers that cover the EU of course, but so far, they all come with a premium you must pay to get them that from June 15th they should not. Even the big groups have not advanced the EU plans to incorporate the “Roam Like at Home” solutions before they really need to.

In January ROCCO Research presented it’s behind the scenes view of the regulation by revealing insights from operators on when they were intending to release their Roam Like at Home (RLAH) tariff plans. While almost 53% of MNOs stated that they would not launch their plans before June 15th, 12% said they had already done so.

Results from the ROCCO Research study

Results from the ROCCO Research study conducted in January 2017. Source: ROCCO.

According to the EU regulation, roaming providers are not allowed to levy any general charge to enable roaming services to be used abroad. Customers on a non-roaming enabled tariff will not become entitled to receive roaming services at their existing domestic tariff. Roaming providers may offer alternative tariffs but they must also offer the RLAH tariff. If you are on a roaming plan that is not regulated, it will either be changed or you will be informed and you should be able to move tariff within 24 hours.

It appears that come June 15th we must all don our Sherlock Holmes hats and pipes and start our investigations into what the tariffs offer. The top 3 things to be look out for are:

  1. **Domestic price increases for subscribers that normally roam:** The price of your home tariff should not increase because it includes Roam like At Home. If you feel that for some reason your roaming supplier is raising your tariff costs to compensate for the cut in roaming charges, speak up, look at alternatives and ultimately contact your regulator.

  2. **Alternative tariffs:** If you are not on a regulated tariff for EU roaming but an alternative tariff, the roaming supplier must notify you.

  3. **Zero charged roaming is not unlimited:** [As Goodspeed reported recently]( fair use policies and surcharges will be in place to prevent permanent roaming scenarios. RLAH is for travellers and not for people looking for the best home tariff from all the roaming suppliers in the EU.

Some Roaming Providers will cease to offer roaming as they will make a loss, while others will embrace the regulation and offer the basic roaming service as well as higher classes of roaming service, which might include superior customer service or coverage.

Our research concludes that, we will not know until June 15th what offers are available. Stay tuned for more insights on the EU regulation from Goodspeed. Until then keep using your Goodspeed hotspot or Goodspeed Roaming App in your ZTE Blade smartphone. We have you covered.

- Hanne @Uros