EU proposes cuts to wholesale roaming rates

16 June 2016 |

The European Union has proposed cutting wholesale roaming rates ahead of the abolition of retail roaming charges in the region by June 2017.

The EU agreed last year on a deal to abolish mobile roaming charges by June next year. However that decision hinges on the prices that carriers agree to pay one another across the 28-bloc region.

Following a study assessing the cost for operators of providing wholesale roaming services in the region, the body proposed reducing the cost to €0.04 per minute for calls, €0.01 per SMS and €0.85 per MB of data. Wholesale prices are presently charged at €0.05 per minute for calls, €0.02 per text and €0.05 per MB of data on top of local charges.

“In a year from now, we’ll say goodbye to roaming charges,” said Andrus Andsip, VP for the digital single market. “Our ambition is to abolish unjustified geo-blocking on the same occasion. We also want the cross-border portability of content to be a reality in 2017 so that Europeans can travel with their films, music, sports broadcasts, e-books across the EU. This will clearly be a triple win for European consumers.”

Guenther Oettinger, commissioner for the digital economy and society, added: “We want to make sure that the end of roaming charges works properly for consumers and market players. This is why we come today with a proposal on wholesale roaming markets. We count now on the European Parliament and the Council to keep the pace and adopt it swiftly.”

Carriers in countries with huge incoming roaming traffic such as Spain and France will want higher rates while carriers in the Baltic and eastern European countries argue that removing retail roaming rates – without first lowering wholesale prices – will force them to increase domestic prices.