More details on EU roaming abolition

As a subscriber to a GSM mobile operator in the EU, there is a lot of excitement coming with the idea that roaming charges will no longer apply in the 28 EU member states from 15 June 2017. While the excitement grows as the press create a whirlwind of speculation about how we are going to use our 'free roaming' (i.e. will it be long hours by the pool watching videos or long days in the bar downloading data) sadly it’s not going to be all sunny days this summer.

Recently the EU regulators who control the roaming rules have announced that in the end there will be some roaming limits subscribers will have to watch out for when using roaming. Mobile operators will be able to set fair use policies on subscriber’s data consumption. For example, if you are a customer of an EU MNO using a Roam Like at Home (RLAH) tariff, you will be able to use EU international mobile roaming services at domestic rates from 15 June 2017. But… to prevent 'abusive' roaming behaviour, your mobile operator will be able to set limits to the consumption.

Young people roaming

Imagine that your mobile operator has a Roam-Like-at-Home tariff plan allowing the unlimited use of data while roaming in the EU. It is likely that if you can use that data unlimited and at low cost you are potentially going to use even more than you might have used before. In addition, mobile subscribers not residing in your home country but another EU country may take that tariff back home with them and use it as a domestic tariff where they live. Anything is possible in the new EU single market.

These scenarios will be monitored by your mobile operator, and they could consequently lead to the withdrawal of unlimited data offers or restrictions to roaming altogether. Most likely they are going to lead to your mobile operator introducing a fair usage policy, which restricts the user from abusing the roaming data.

  • Mobile operators in the EU can implement fair use policies to prevent the abuse of regulated roaming services.
  • They can also set roaming surcharges if they can demonstrate to their local regulator that their roaming services are being abused.

Some mobile operators may ask you to verify where you are employed and what type of employment you have, maybe you are a student or you are retired. Mobile subscribers can be asked to provide proof of their residency in line with national customs, such as their billing address.

In the event that fair use policies fail, your mobile operator would be entitled to request to its regulator that it could go back to having roaming charges.

Many mobile operators are already considering that balancing the cost of roaming to them and what they are offering to subscribers creates challenges for their revenues. We know that some MVNOs in Europe already decided to omit roaming from their offerings.

On balance, no one knows exactly what is going to happen from June 15th onwards. In principle regulation is a good thing, but we also know that the roaming tariff plans are sometimes complex to understand and often restrict the free right to roam at predictable simple pricing which is all most subscribers really want.

One thing is certain though; there will be all kinds of roaming tariff plans as part of the domestic tariff plan. I recommend understanding them very well, otherwise you may be back to the roaming bill shock you were trying to avoid in the first place. What we have created with Goodspeed is a simple solution. You know what you will pay and when, and can roam with confidence and assurance of bill shock free roaming.

- Hanne @Uros