Brussels, 1 February 2017 – Yesterday evening, an agreement was reached between EU lawmakers and Member States on the level of caps for the wholesale roaming charges mobile network operators pay each other when their customers call, send texts or use their data in another EU member State. For wholesale roaming caps, a glide path has been set starting at 7,7€/GB in 2017 going down to 6€/GB in 2018 and 2,5€/GB in 2022. We would like to highlight to great work achieved by the European Parliament Rapporteur Miapetra Kumpula-Natri and Shadow Rapporteurs on the file who have been fighting for low caps in order to preserve competition.
However, despite repeated calls to go lower from the European Parliament, data caps are set at a level which is still too high. This will not only strongly affect competition but lead to higher overall prices for Europeans.
Today in European countries, retail data offers already are at 1 or 2 €/GB. As smaller operators and MVNOs pay wholesale access at the level of EU regulated caps, there is a high risk for these operators not being able to recover their costs. This will have a direct effect on customers: the higher the wholesale caps are, the fewer there will be “Roam-like-at-home” offers for consumers on the market using prepaid offers or unlimited bundles by virtue of art. 4.2. and 4.3. of the Fair Usage Regulation adopted last year in December.
MVNO Europe Vice-President, Innocenzo Genna stated that “European citizens expect the end of the roaming surcharges to happen without losing competitive tariffs and innovative offers: by contrast, with the present deal on wholesale caps, they will be heavily disappointed”.
With excessive wholesale roaming charges, dominant mobile operators will be the only ones to drive the market, adding barriers for smaller players. MVNOs, being the first-movers in offering innovative services, are therefore crucial for competition adding real value on the telecoms market and to end-users.