S&Ds push for an ambitious wholesale cap reduction to abolish roaming charges in June
If the European Union wants to deliver on its promise to abolish roaming fees by 15 June 2017 so that EU citizens can ‘Roam-like-at-home’ whilst travelling, - as adopted in the telecoms regulation in 2015 - it needs to urgently reform the system by which mobile operators charge each other when their customers travel to another EU country.
Today the author of the parliamentary report on wholesale roaming costs, S&D MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, got the support of the industry committee for her proposals and to start negotiating a final law with member states in the Council.
Her report decreases the wholesale cap for a voice call to €0.03 and introduces, - since data usage is projected to increase dramatically during the coming years - instead of a fixed wholesale cap, a cap that is gradually decreasing each year, starting at €4 per gigabyte in 2017 and ending at €1 per gigabyte in 2020.
Miapetra Kumpula-Natri said:
“We will only be able to abolish roaming charges for consumers if operators lower the price they charge each other when their customers travel to another EU country. And we need to do it fast. This is why I am glad that I got a strong mandate to start negotiations with the Council.
“It is in everyone’s interests to keep wholesale costs low. Too high wholesale caps would endanger competition, as it would eliminate smaller operators and those offering generous data usage. As these actors are often the ones offering the most competitive deals for consumers, it would result in less freedom of choice and diversity for consumers. Furthermore, it would also risk to increase prices for consumers overall. In such cases, operators will be forced to choose between two evils: raising domestic prices to all customers, or applying to the sustainability mechanism*, which, if granted, means they would continue to apply roaming fees on their customers and we would have failed to deliver our promise of Roam-like-at-home.”
We also see a need to enhance transparency in the telecom markets, also regarding the wholesale roaming markets. The Commission will need to report and make public the developments in the roaming markets at the end of 2018 and conduct a thorough review by the end of 2019, assessing the impact of the roaming regulation on the market as well as consumers.
The legislative resolution was approved by 53 votes in favour, 5 against and 2 abstentions. On 2 December, the member states will adopt their negotiating position in the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council (TTE).
* The sustainability clause is a mechanism by which an operator can apply to their National Regulator for a derogation from the abolition of roaming fees, in order to re-apply roaming fees to avoid raising domestic prices for consumers.