End of Roaming charges

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End of Roaming charges

The neverending story of the end of roaming charges, as announced by President Juncker in his State of the Union Address, sees a new chapter opened by the discussion at College level of a revised draft of the rules needed to avoid abuses of the end of roaming charges in time for June 2017.

The Commissioners examined a new approach to the fair use principle and agreed that there should be no limits in terms of timing or volume imposed on consumers when using their mobile devices abroad in the EU. At the same time, the new approach provides a solid safeguard mechanism for operators against potential abuses.

This new mechanism will be based on principle of residence or stable links European consumers may have with any EU Member State (frequent and substantial presence in the Member State of the roaming provider, for example).

Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said:

“Parliament and Council agreed on our proposal to end roaming charges for travellers in the EU. Together we need to ensure low prices for users all across Europe, to make full use of new mobile services. European consumers would not accept it otherwise.”

Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, added that the new draft rules:

“Ensure we can end roaming charges as of 15 June 2017 for all people who travel periodically in the EU, while ensuring that operators have the tools to guard against abuse of the rules.”

The idea is still to enable all travellers using a SIM card of a Member State in which they reside or with which they have stable links to use their mobile device in any other EU country, just as they would at home.

Examples of “stable links” include work commuters, expats who are frequently present in their home country or Erasmus students. Europeans will pay domestic prices when they call, text or go online from their mobile devices and will have full access to other parts of their mobile subscription (e.g. monthly data package).

The College of Commissioners should adopt the nal proposal by 15 December 2016, following feedback from BEREC (Body of European Regulators in Electronic Communications), Member States and all interested parties.

For a decade, the Commission has been working to reduce the surcharges that telecoms operators imposed on their customers each time they crossed a border while using their mobile device on holiday or during business trips. Since 2007, roaming prices have decreased by more than 90%. In 2015, and based on a proposal of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council agreed to end roaming charges for people who travel periodically in the EU.

To protect the operators from potential misuses, the new draft allows them to check usage patterns to avoid the “Roam like at Home” mechanism is abused. A non-exhaustive list of criteria includes insigni cant domestic tra c compared to roaming tra c, long inactivity of a given SIM card associated with use mostly, if not exclusively, while roaming and subscription and sequential use of multiple SIM cards by the same customer while roaming.

Only if these conditions are met, operators shall alert their users and will be able to apply small surcharges (the Commission proposed a maximum of €0.04/min per call, €0.01/SMS and €0.0085/MB).

In case of disagreement, complaints procedures must be put in place by the operator. If the dispute persists the customer may complain to the national regulatory authority which will settle the case.

Lorenzo Scattini