Edition 1453
09 December 2017
Edition: 1453

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Roaming ends, but at what cost?

by Brendan de Beer, in News · 15-06-2017 12:26:00 · 4 Comments

A European Union law to abolish roaming charges for people using mobile phones abroad came into force on Thursday 15 June. Residents of EU countries will now be able to make wireless calls, use data, and send texts without any additional roaming charges when they travel anywhere in the EU.

Roaming ends, but at what cost?

The Roam Like at Home (RLAH) campaign is the culmination of ten years of EU law changes, which have seen roaming costs become increasingly cheaper. The new rules will however be subject to fair usage policies, and additional charges can be levied should consumers use their phones predominantly outside of their home countries.
But here in Portugal, the end of roaming charges has raised concerns that national operators here could increase bills for domestic users.
Observers say this would be to offset the cost of providing services to millions of EU tourists who visit the country annually.
Operators here in Portugal have reportedly expressed the concern that RLAH will result in a negative balance and possibly translate into additional costs for Portuguese consumers.
This is due to the number of EU visitors to Portugal far outweighing the number of Portuguese travelling abroad. Previously, operators here would bill the operator in the home country of the visitor, which would usually imply some profit domestically.
But under the new regulations, operators here will have to support the call and data packages tourists signed up for in their home countries.
The removal of roaming will also see tourists in Portugal using far more data than was previously the case, placing an additional strain on infrastructures here, particularly in areas popular with tourists.
A study by international technology firm Altran supports these findings, saying that RLAH could see a transfer of revenue from poorer countries, such as Portugal, to wealthier northern European countries, as tariffs here could be raised.
Researchers pointed to the possibility that some operators could create new commercial strategies to minimise the impact of RLAH or even draw benefits from the regulation.
Another area of concern would be “false roamers” who are people that travel frequently between two countries, but purchase telecommunication packages in the country with the most favourable rate.
The Altran report also argues that the end of roaming does not take into consideration countries with large and rapid influxes of people, which is the case of Portugal, especially during the summer months.
Operators here would have to invest to support the increased traffic as networks become strained in months such as July and August. But operators would only profit from the improved infrastructure for short periods of the year when billing, while reporting losses for the remaining part of the year.
Under the RLAH regulation, phone calls, texts and accessing data with a mobile device from another EU country will be covered in the national bundle. The minutes of calls, texts and megabytes of data that a person consumes abroad within the EU will be charged the same as at home.
If a person has unlimited calls and texts, they will get unlimited calls and texts when roaming in the EU.
However if a person has unlimited mobile data or very cheap mobile data at home, his operator may apply a safeguard (fair use) limit on data use while roaming. If so, the operator will have to inform the customer in advance about such a limit and alert them when they reach this limit.
As long as a person periodically travels and spends more time in their home country than abroad over any four-month period, they will fully benefit from Roam Like at Home.
A very small number of operators in the EU have been allowed by the national telecoms regulator to continue applying a small roaming surcharge after 15 June in order to avoid negative effects on very low domestic prices.

Comments

I just call Paris-France this mornig, guess what, I got back a ms telling me I was charged $.85 for less than a minute.
by C. Bento from Alentejo on 20-06-2017 10:43:00
Mr. de Beer is likely misinformed here. Operators still sent bills to each other for international calls though now it is @ wholesale tariff. The milking of the mobile consumer ends... Mr de beer would help us more by comparing the Mobile tariffs here in Portugal... They are equal to the penny but concealed within continously changing packages... Speaking about an open market? Well here is some news Mr. de Beer: The Telecom market here has been closed as Scrooges wallet for tens of years.. FYI I have been using my foreign number to call here in Europe since the roaming tariff was cheaper than that of Portugese operators... Ofcourse they complain since their milk cow was taken away and in true Portugese custom they were too late in adapting and are likely going to ask, the taxpayer for help... For a previously communist country they understand too well how to make money now...
Please write us a honest article on telecom operators and their pricing policies.... Not only Mobile but also broadband please. Thanks in advance
by Fred from Algarve on 17-06-2017 11:18:00
Is that good news ?
by azoreseuropa from USA on 16-06-2017 07:57:00
Good news, isn't it ?
by azoreseuropa from USA on 16-06-2017 01:43:00

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Edition 1453
09 December 2017
Edition: 1453

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter