According to POLITICO, the meeting where roaming charges were banned took until 2 am to hammer out the details. After ten years worth of talks and discussions leading up to the final agreement.
The Latvian delegation finally brokered a successful compromise, ensuring mobile roaming charges will be banned across Europe from June 2017. In the interim, charges for calls, text messages and data will reduce from April 30, 2016, given telecoms operators time to adjust to the new rules.
A Big Step Forward?
In theory, this sounds like a big step forward for European customers. But remember, this only applies to EU citizens when traveling around Europe. For most of the world, roaming is still an every day and costly reality for hundreds of millions of people who travel around the world.
Apart from America, Europe is the only content approaching – and some might argue, with still a long way to go – a federalist political model. For most of the world, that kind of unity is even more of a dream. Consequently, customers across the world will be paying for roaming for decades to come.
Even in Europe, many are saying these changes don’t go nearly far enough. Monique Goyens, director general of the European Consumer Organisation, speaking to The Guardian said, “Allowing companies to limit roaming rights for frequent travellers, for example, is certainly not the promised end of roaming in Europe. A real zero-roaming Europe hinges on a major telecom market reform, which is a mammoth task to achieve in just 13 months.”
Several concerns have already been raised.
Reducing revenue from higher European surcharges could be passed onto domestic consumers, or customers traveling to other parts of the world. Telecoms providers will be losing billions in revenue, which has to be recovered in other ways.
Lisa Unden-Farboud, Lead Analyst at Gartner, told IBTimes UK: “Providers will seek ways to make additional revenue streams in the form of either trimming the value of packages in home markets, or adding new services and applications by which the providers hope to entice their users deeper into longer contracts or make contract exits more challenging.”
Higher charges could also be applied to foreign customers using local networks within the EU, such as tourists and business travellers from China or America. It’s difficult to know exactly how mobile providers will react, but it’s clear they will do everything possible to mitigate the loss of revenue from roaming in the European Union.
This means that whilst some customers in one region of the world will benefit, many other travellers are likely to experience higher costs as a result of this EU ruling on roaming charges.
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