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01 February 2017
| James Pearce
The European Commission has struck a provisional deal with the European Parliament over caps to wholesale roaming charges.
The agreement would bring the European Union a step closer
to enact its plans to make using a phone across Europe for no
extra cost a reality.
The deal determines what operators will pay each other when
a customer uses their network, and must be passed by the full
parliament, along with all EU member states.
The EC had promised to enact the policy by 17 June, but had
hit a roadblock as member states and the parliament struggled
to agree on the new caps.
Negotiators agreed on wholesale caps of 3.2c per minute of
voice call, 1c per SMS, and a more complex step guide to data
caps. These will decrease over five years, from €7.7 per
GB as of 15 June 2017 to €6 per GB (as of 1 January 2018),
€4.5 per GB (as of 1 January 2019), €3.5 per GB (as
of 1 January 2020), €3 per GB (as of 1 January 2021) and
€2.5 per GB (as of 1 January 2022).
EC VP for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip welcomed
the agreement, adding: "This was the last piece of the puzzle.
As of 15 June, Europeans will be able to travel in the EU
without roaming charges.
"We have also made sure that operators can continue
competing to provide the most attractive offers to their home
markets. Today we deliver on our promise. I warmly thank the
European Parliament rapporteur Miapetra Kumpula-Natri and all
the negotiators from the European Parliament as well as the
Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU and all those
involved in achieving this milestone. Their efforts made it
The agreement must be approved by both the Parliament and
the European Council, made up of member states, before the 15
June deadline when the rules become applicable.
Chris Haddock, head of marketing for OpenCloud, said
operators will now need to add tangible value to their services
to make up for the potential lost revenue from the roaming
He said: "EU roaming premiums are on their way out and
reducing mobile operators’ revenues with them.
This is on top of the fiercely competitive market conditions
that have arisen over the last few years that have already
squeezed the operators’ revenue streams.
"Internet companies and OTT players like WhatsApp and
Facebook have been offering free, value-added services to their
customers continuously, providing incremental updates at no
extra cost. Operators must replicate this model and put more
effort into innovation to increase and strengthen customer
loyalty. Adding further value to their communication services
could be the differentiator that operators need to win market
share and offset the loss of their roaming charges."