Feature Article

September 24, 2014

End of Europe Mobile Roaming Fees in 2016? Maybe Not

Mobile roaming fees within European Union countries has been slated for 2015 reductions as part of moves aimed at eliminating roaming fees altogether, originally forecast for 2016.

But there might now be a delay in the timetable for ending all roaming fees for text messaging, mobile Internet or voice by 2016.

Mobile service providers have opposed those changes, for obvious reasons. The EU market for mobile roaming services creates revenue for mobile service providers.

In 2009, for example, the retail EU roaming market accounted for 4,777 billion EUR in revenues.

About 71 percent of that was created by roaming voice usage. Of that amount, about 75 percent was generated by users placing calls while roaming.

About 17 percent of roaming revenue was generated by mobile Internet access and about 11 percent from text messaging while roaming.

The wholesale market represented about 1,253 billion EUR in 2009.

Altogether, roaming revenues once represented about 3.7 percent of total mobile industry revenues of 164 billion EUR.  

So that’s the heart of the matter. Roaming fee elimination shrinks mobile service provider revenue by about 3.7 percent, overall.

On the other hand, since about 2007, voice roaming revenues have been declining, even if voice roaming charges likely still represent the majority of total roaming revenues for mobile service providers.

Just what happens now is hard to say. It is possible that the final end of roaming fees could be delayed, at the very least.

Outgoing EU telecoms commissioner Neelie Kroes had pushed hard for elimination of roaming fees.

But a new draft of the legislation makes no mention of the original Dec. 15, 2015 end date for roaming fees across the EU.

On July 1, 2014, the cost of initiating a roaming voice call was sliced 21 percent. The cost of receiving a roamed call dropped 28.5 percent.

Sending a text message across EU country borders was reduced by 25 percent, while the cost of using mobile Internet while roaming was slashed 55.5 percent.

And though Kroes also had pushed for new EU-wide methods of allocating spectrum, that proposal also seems to be running into trouble, as national regulators were predictably unhappy about giving up their role in spectrum assignment.




Edited by Maurice Nagle


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