Wherever You May Roam
While consumers benefit from streamlined roaming prices, questions still remain for operators.
The European Union has a pretty impressive track record when it comes to curbing overcharging on roaming prices. Since 2007, the EU has achieved retail price reductions across calls, SMS and data of over 80 per cent – and data roaming, for one, is now up to 91 per cent cheaper compared to nine years ago. Also, the volume of the data roaming market has grown by 630 per cent since then.
Yet more changes are in the pipeline. Starting from May 1, 2016, operators can invoice the end-customer at the maximum of domestic price plus EU-regulated wholesale price. Kimmo Martikka, head of Roaming for DNA, says that for end-users, this should offer, in many cases, lower tariffs – which hopefully encourages consumers to use their phones abroad more.
“There is, for example, a big change in the pricing for receiving a call while roaming in the EU/EEA area. From a carrier’s perspective, the wholesale tariffs that operators charge for ‘renting’ the network to each other do not change at this point.”
When Price Is Right
Talking about the future development of roaming charges in the EU and beyond, Martikka believes that using data will increase significantly and the pricing policies become more understandable for end-users.
“This, hopefully, will be witnessed also globally, perhaps still with some delay,” says Martikka.
“One rising challenge could be that while wholesale and end-user tariffs within EU/EEA countries do get lower, does the same happen outside these countries?” he asks.
“These price differences that occur should also be clear in the minds of the end-users when they are abroad. This can pose a challenge for communications.”
Coming Soon…Fair Usage!
And there’s more. In summer 2017, the roaming prices are assumed to change so that Fair Usage Policy can be determined. Fair Usage Policy means that you can use voice, data and SMS in the EU without any additional cost to national tariffs. Additional usage above Fair Usage is based on EU-regulated prices.
However, there is no decision about the level of EU-regulated wholesale prices – and Martikka is hesitant to comment, since all the facts are not on the table. Nevertheless, he is worried that it can be quite difficult to finalise the entire regulatory model in required detail in time – the industry has already worked very hard to support the earlier regulation demands (such as LBO) which are not too commonly utilised at all.
“It might prove to be even more difficult to support all these unclear forthcoming regulatory demands.”
One Step at a Time
DNA continues to follow – quite intently – the developments that relate to regulatory changes in roaming. Investments will come along only when all the facts are known. But the road ahead still looks pretty good:
“Currently, the necessary billing system modifications for spring 2016 are already in progress, so end-users should experience this simply as a positive issue within a few months.”