“EU Roam home”
If like me you are a loud and proud Silent Roamer refusing to connect to anything other than good old free Wi-Fi whilst abroad, you probably enjoy any excuse to go ‘off-grid’ when you turn off your data roaming.
The new EU roaming regulations however, have other plans for the likes of you and me.
Announced last month, by June 2017, travellers within the EU will be able to use their mobile phones on the same tariffs as they would at home. The abolition of EU roaming charges means roaming travellers will save a fortune in each of the 28 EU member states – providing the UK stays part of the EU – which is great news for the not-so-silent roamers!
For hapless holidaymakers, this ground-breaking step will prevent the summer newspapers filling up with bill shock stories of unsuspecting roamers being stung by mobile operators cashing in on sky-high roaming prices. Over the recent years we have all seen stories of mobile users drumming up bills of £20,000+ for ‘uploading Facebook pictures’, and this will now change in favour of end-users.
For the telecoms industry however, the impact of these new regulations is likely to be huge. Telco players will be forced to innovate and collaborate to launch services such as ‘roaming only’ pan-EU MVNOs to address the changing market and end-user demand. Mobile users’ expectations will also drive operators to adapt their services to keep up with the increasing demand of 3G and LTE services abroad.
Eradicating roaming charges has been severely resisted by the mobile industry who stand to lose out on the lucrative revenue channel (not from Silent Roamers, I might add). However, a parallel deal struck at the same time on net neutrality means telecoms firms can charge some service providers for speedier connections to their customers.
With the timeline currently stating from June 2017 phone calls and data will cost the same wherever people are in EU, April 2016 will see the start of maximum charges which will be set in place as a transitional measure. Some mobile operators – ahead of the game – have decided to bring their roaming costs right down already, in a bid to win customers over during the holiday season.
With roaming charges having put a real dampener on holidaymakers’ budgets, there is no doubt these new regulations will be welcomed with open arms by the majority. For telecoms players however, they will just have to find new innovative ways to monetise their services.