Described as ‘the last step towards the end of roaming charges,’ today the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission came to an agreement on data wholesale roaming rates – the prices networks charge each other to carry non-domestic data over their network.
The agreement sees rates in Euros slashed to 3.2 cents per minute of voice calling, 1 cent per SMS and €7.7 per GB data. This is to come into effect on 15 June this year.
They also agreed further rate caps to come, with data falling annually in gradually descreasing increments ranging from €1.70 to €0.50, eventually bringing the price of 1GB down to €2.50 by January 2022.
Andrus Ansip, Digital Single Market VP, stated, ‘This was the last piece of the puzzle. As of 15 June, Europeans will be able to travel in the EU without roaming charges. We have also made sure that operators can continue competing to provide the most attractive offers to their home markets.’
Reaching an agreement has been hampered by differing demands across the EU block. Countries like the UK, France and Germany sought to preserve operator revenues by keeping the wholesale rates high, while northern and eastern European countries favoured lower caps to ensure customers who do not travel are not left subsidising frequent travellers.
UK MVNOs and operators such as Three, iD, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone who have already sought to use inclusive roaming as a differentiator are to be affected by both negative and positive consequences. While their business models are already adjusted to take into account the reduced ARPU today’s announcement will cause, they also stand to lose a key selling point, which has been costly to implement.
Of course, their wider roaming agreements with non-European countries still represent a significant advantage, and with Brexit comes the need for the UK to once again individually negotiate wholesale roaming rates on a state-by-state basis with members of the European Union.