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May 10, 2016
The Commission ran a consultation on the review of national wholesale roaming markets from 29 November 2015 to 18 February 2016. The purpose was to gather views on the functioning of roaming markets in the EU, and the current regulation of national wholesale roaming markets in the EU against the obligation in the Roaming Regulation (2015/2120/EU) to abolish retail roaming surcharges by 15 June 2017. Responses to the consultation will be taken into account in the Commission’s review of the EU wholesale roaming market and in the Regulation relating to the wholesale market that it will propose to enable the abolition of retail roaming surcharges in the EU as of 15 June 2017, the “Roam-Like-At-Home regime”.
On the functioning of the wholesale roaming market, operators had differing perceptions of its effectiveness. The larger operators and operators with large inbound roaming traffic argued that competition was effective, as shown by wholesale market prices often being below the current regulatory caps.
Other operators, in particular the smaller ones, Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) and operators with large outbound roaming traffic, argued that prices available to them on the wholesale market were at or close to the current caps and substantially above cost.
Views on the effect that Roam-Like-At-Home (RLAH) will have on competition in the wholesale roaming markets were also split between these two groups of operators, the former arguing that RLAH will increase competition, the latter arguing the opposite.
As for the most appropriate regulatory measure at wholesale level to enable RLAH in 2017, a large majority of respondents were of the view that EU-wide wholesale roaming caps valid in all Member States were the most appropriate regulatory approach to enable RLAH in 2017.
However, because of the differing perceptions as to how the wholesale roaming market functions, operators were divided as to what would be the most appropriate level for the EU caps to enable sustainable RLAH. Operators with a large footprint and operators with large inbound roaming traffic defended the view that RLAH would be sustainable under current wholesale roaming price caps. The smaller operators, MVNOs and operators with large outbound roaming traffic argued that wholesale roaming price caps must be significantly lower in order to enable sustainable RLAH.
There was also a widespread call from operators for further harmonisation of Mobile Termination Rates, in addition to the Roaming Regulation, in order to enable RLAH for voice. For a link to the full report, click here.