• MVNO Europe welcomes the EC’s proposal to prolong the Roam-Like-At-Home Regime;
  • MVNO Europe nevertheless considers that the wholesale caps proposed by the Commission are disconnected from market reality and need to be further reduced to allow for a more competitive regime;
  • More acceptable caps for data would be 0.75 EUR/GB for 2022, 0.50 EUR/GB for 2023, 0.25 EUR/GB for 2024 with a cost-based review in 2025;
  • MVNO Europe also calls on the co-legislators to be ambitious on issues concerning permanent roaming in order contribute to the development of Pan-European IoT services.

MVNO Europe welcomes the European Commission’s legislative proposal to prolong the Roam-Like-At-Home regime beyond 2022 (to June 2032) as well as its intention to balance the negotiation power between Mobile Virtual Network Operators and Mobile Network Operators through lower wholesale roaming price caps (Articles 10-11-12) and through equal and fair access to all network technologies available (Article 3.3).

Nevertheless, MVNO Europe calls on both the European Parliament and the Council, in their roles as co-legislators, to substantially reduce the regulated price caps for wholesale roaming services proposed today by the European Commission (2€/GB from July 2022 to December 2024 and then 1.5€/GB in 2025) as these are somewhat disconnected from market reality. A further reduction is necessary to ensure that EU consumers and businesses can further benefit from unrestricted and competitive services at attractive conditions when travelling within the European Union and the EEA.

MVNO Europe considers the European Commission’s proposal to prolong the glide-path for wholesale roaming price caps until 2025 as a positive development, but fears that the price caps suggested prove inefficient in correcting negative side-effects the EU Roaming Regulation has had so far on smaller operators.

Indeed, as unilateral buyers of wholesale roaming access who cannot host any inbound roaming traffic, MVNOs are unable to offset the wholesale costs associated with the massive traffic increases resulting from the abolition of retail roaming surcharges. These side-effects have been reinforced by the fact that wholesale agreements obtained by MVNOs are in most cases close to or at the level of the regulated wholesale roaming price caps. These elements combined led to an explosion of wholesale costs which prevented/hampered MVNOs from fully playing their role of challenger and innovator within the electronic communications markets.

To remedy this unsustainable situation and to enable growth and innovation going forward, MVNO Europe proposes to proceed to a revision of wholesale roaming price caps proposed by the European Commission, to ensure that these reflect true market realities and genuine underlying costs. In particular MVNO Europe proposes to reduce the wholesale price caps for data to values as follows:

  • 2022: 0.75 EUR/GB
  • 2023: 0.50 EUR/GB
  • 2024: 0.25 EUR/GB
  • 2025: Lower values based on a full review by the co-legislators

The updated glide-path has to be more realistic and ambitious than the one proposed by the European Commission and should be systematically reviewed every three years so as to take account of market realities – including the latest network/technological developments (i.e. efficiencies from additional spectrum becoming available, 5G-related spectrum modulation (e.g. massive MIMO), active antenna systems , etc.) and their impact on relevant cost structures. The future reviews of the caps should not be completed by way of delegated act (as proposed by the European Commission in Articles 22 and 23) so as to take the views from the European Parliament and the Members States into consideration. In parallel, the new glide-path should further match the rapid increase of roaming volumes which is to be expected once the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Above all, the ratio of EU wholesale roaming outpayments for MVNOs compared to the retail revenues they can earn should not undermine the business case for operators.

The values MVNO Europe proposes until 2024 gradually decrease at an average rate of 41%, which corresponds to the rate at which wholesale rates have evolved since the entry of application of the Roam-Like-At-Home regime in 2017 – as evidenced by BEREC[1]. The values proposed by MVNO Europe are actually quite conservative bearing in mind that wholesale data roaming was widely being traded at or below €1/GB back in 2018 according to the European Commission’s own data[2]. The European Commission’s proposal to set the cap at €2/GB from mid-2022 and to reduce it only to €1.5/GB from 2025 is clearly disconnected from market reality and from underlying cost of providing mobile data connectivity in the light of technological progress.

In addition, MVNO Europe regrets the Commission’s lack of vision to deliver on its ambition to contribute to the development of the Internet of Things (IoT). Today’s legislative proposal makes no material progress in this regard, and amounts to continuing to tolerate, and in fact encourage (Article 3) artificial restrictions on roaming. MVNO Europe therefore invites the European Parliament and the Council to enhance the Commission’s proposal by modifying Article 3 of the EU Roaming Regulation so as to make it applicable in case roaming access is sought for the purpose of IoT, and to ensure it is not artificially restricted to traditional Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications involving no human interaction component. Definitional issues should be surmounted in a manner that does not restrict innovation. The EU Roaming Regulation should actively promote competition in the delivery of seamless Pan-EU IoT connectivity. The IoT market is a Pan-EU market, a Single Market.

[1] Indeed, since the RLAH regime entered into application, wholesale rates decreased on average by approximately 40% year-over-year.

[2] Figure 50 of the Commission Staff Working Document Accompanying the document Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the review of the roaming market {COM(2019) 616 final}, November 2019 – https://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/dae/document.cfm?doc_id=63422