End of roaming charges: EU negotiators agreed on wholesale prices, the final piece to make it happen
As the last step towards the end of roaming charges by 15 June 2017, representatives of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission agreed on how to regulate wholesale roaming markets (the prices operators charge each other when their customers use other networks when roaming in the EU). EU negotiators agreed on the following wholesale caps:-3.2 cents per minute of voice call, as of 15 June 2017
-1 cent per SMS, as of 15 June 2017
-A step by step reduction over 5 years for data caps decreasing 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).
Mr Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, welcomed the agreement: "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 happen".
Last night's political agreement is a final achievement to make "roam-like-at-home" work as of 15 June 2017, as foreseen in the Telecom Single Market (TSM) Regulation. It means that when travelling in the EU, consumers will be able to call, send SMS or surf on their mobile at the same price they pay at home. The agreement makes "roam-like-at-home" sustainable for people and businesses, while ensuring cost recovery and keeping national wholesale roaming markets competitive.
Thanks to yesterday's political agreement on wholesale rules and the rules on fair use policy and sustainability adopted by the Commission in December 2016, consumers can use their home subscriptions when travelling periodically abroad. If consumers exceed their contract limits when roaming, any additional charges will not be higher than the wholesale roaming caps agreed today.
The Commission will conduct a review of the wholesale market by the end of 2019 and provide the colegislators with an interim assessment by 15 December 2018.
The European Parliament and the Council must now formally approve the agreement reached today. The new wholesale roaming prices will become applicable on 15 June 2017, in time for operators to take all the necessary preparatory steps for the introduction of roam-like -at-home by then.
For a decade, the Commission has been working to reduce and ultimately end the surcharges that telecoms operators imposed on their customers each time they crossed a border while using their mobile device on holiday or during business trips. Since 2007, roaming prices have decreased by more than 90%. Prices fell for the final time in April 2016, to 5 cents per minute of voice call, 2 cents per SMS, and 5 cents per MB of data on top of national rates. In 2015, and based on a proposal of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council agreed to end roaming charges for people travelling periodically in the EU. The Commission adopted technical measures needed to make this happen, including a fair use policy and sustainability mechanism in December 2016. In parallel, the Telecoms Single Market Regulation entrusted the Commission with the task of reviewing the wholesale roaming markets and making appropriate proposals before 15 June 2016, in order to enable the abolition of retail roaming charges from 15 June 2017.