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Legislators should not lose sight of correcting discriminatory wholesale roaming charges despite progress on EECC

Legislators should not lose sight of correcting discriminatory wholesale roaming charges despite progress on EECC

Posted by on Feb 8, 2018 in Uncategorized |

Legislators make welcome progress on pro-competitive radio spectrum aspects of the draft European Electronic Communications Code, but high wholesale roaming charges are still hurting MVNOs and damaging competition for mobile services.

press release roaming photo

During the last trialogue meeting on the European Electronic Communications Code on 1 February 2018, the EU co-legislators made good progress by provisionally agreeing on a block of key provisions for radio spectrum and mobile telecommunications. MVNO Europe, the association of Mobile Virtual Network Operators, particularly welcomes the provisional agreement on Article 52, which confirms the promotion of competition as a guiding principle of radio spectrum assignment procedures.

However, European MVNOs and their ability to act as competitive challengers, are still very much hurt by extremely high wholesale roaming charges that have a strong discriminatory effect in the provision of roam-like-at-home (“RLAH”) services. For instance, a recent report by the French telecom regulator ARCEP[1] demonstrates that in France Mobile Network Operators where able to recover most of the losses incurred in implementing RLAH, because of the additional inbound roaming traffic that generated substantial extra revenues for them. MVNOs, by contrast, are not able to earn such revenues at all.

“When it comes to international roaming, MVNOs continue to be unjustifiably discriminated by EU Regulation on tariffs” said Innocenzo Genna, Vice-President of MVNO Europe. “MVNOs cannot offset any loss on outbound roaming traffic by relying on revenues from increased inbound roaming traffic, because of their virtual nature that impedes them to collect wholesale roaming revenues”. Thus: “MVNOs urge the European Commission to review as soon as possible the level of wholesale roaming charges contained in the EU regulation, and reduce them to put an end to this unfair discrimination, which harms competition and end-user interests, not only for consumers and business users of traditional mobile services, but also impedes the development of the Internet of Things” Genna continued.

MVNO Europe expects BEREC and National Regulatory Authorities to provide input to the European Commission during 2018, which should lead to a justifiably much lower level of wholesale roaming charges.

In addition, MVNO Europe expects EU Member States to duly implement the competition principle introduced in the upcoming European Electronic Communications Code by embedding an obligation to provide wholesale access to MVNOs in future spectrum licenses “Such an obligation would finally provide MVNOs with the necessary bargaining power when negotiating with network operators and, consequently, it would dramatically increase competitive conditions in mobile retail markets” said Federico Poggi from Fastweb and Vice-President of MVNO Europe.

 

[1] Les services de communications électroniques en France – 3ème trimestre 2017 – 11 January 2018

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ikchpmgxc9gp2zh/obs-marches-T3-2017-110118.pdf?dl=0

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MVNO Europe kicks off new year with election of experienced and revamped board

MVNO Europe kicks off new year with election of experienced and revamped board

Posted by on Feb 5, 2018 in Uncategorized |

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Brussels – MVNO Europe looks forward to the new and old challenges the new year will bring to us. To meet those challenges, a revamped board has been (re-)elected that combines the best elements of both old and new.

Jacques Bonifay (Transatel) and Innocenzo Genna (CoopVoce) have been re-elected as President and Vice-President respectively to provide hard earned experience and ensure continuity within the association, allowing it to build on the work done in the previous years. Federico Poggi (Fastweb) and Lukas Jankauskas (Teledema) have been elected as new Vice-Presidents, inducing an exciting new vibe in the association and expanding its representativeness throughout Europe. “The association will seek to expand even further to strengthen its unique position as unified voice of all European MVNOs”, says Lukas Jankauskas.

The year 2018 will be of major importance for MVNOs. The EECC (European Electronic Communications Code) will be finalized and its provisions are crucial for guaranteeing fair market access conditions for MVNOs. “Fair access conditions to all EU markets is the only way to ensure a competitive balance between all operators throughout the European Union, for the benefit of innovation and consumer welfare”, says Innocenzo Genna. “Even more so, it would provide (new) European players with the opportunity to become genuine world leaders, extending their business even beyond EU borders”, says Jacques Bonifay, “especially since more and more MVNOs are developing in the IoT (Internet of Things) space, which creates new business perspectives”. Federico Poggi concludes that “2018 will also be the year in which the first 5G global standards emerge, the first step towards concrete 5G developments. MVNO Europe will continue to stress the vital role that MVNOs will have in future 5G markets”.

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End of roaming: unexpected side effects for consumers, business users and operators?

End of roaming: unexpected side effects for consumers, business users and operators?

Posted by on Jun 14, 2017 in Uncategorized |

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Brussels, June 2017 –  As of June 15, mobile users in Europe will in principle be able to “roam-like-at-home”, under the EU new rules which abolish mobile roaming surcharges across the Union. MVNO Europe has always strongly supported the policy objective of “roam-like-at-home”, and its members are looking forward to offering roaming free offers to their customers. Yet, there might be unexpected side effects for consumers, business users and operators as wholesale regulated roaming caps still remain too high and could lead to competitive unbalances on the markets. Unfortunately, in this context we will not be surprised to see a number of operators applying and qualifying for derogations.

After years of intense negotiations, on the 15th of June, “roam-like-at-home” (RLAH) will come into force across the European Union. MVNO Europe has always strongly supported this policy objective of the European Commission and as MVNO Chair, Jacques Bonifay indicated “MVNOs have always played a crucial role in the past to reduce roaming costs for consumers and enterprises. The principle of offering RLAH is in MVNOs’ DNA.” Our members are ready to offer roaming to their customers at national prices, and many have already launched attractive RLAH offers in their respective markets.

However, we believe that in order to ensure fair market conditions for all players, the end of roaming needed to be accompanied by a strong decrease of wholesale roaming caps so as to better reflect the actual cost of international roaming. “Reducing wholesale caps is a simple measure that works to enable all operators to compete” said J. Bonifay. Today, RLAH is implemented with wholesale caps that are still too high compared to national wholesale pricing for most players in national markets and could cause significant problems for some operators. MVNO Europe has repeatedly flagged this risk to the European Institutions.

In this context, MVNO Europe will not be surprised to see in the future a number of operators applying, and qualifying for a derogation to the application of “roam-like-at-home”, the so-called “sustainability mechanism”, or even see national prices rise in some markets.

Our Vice-President Innocenzo Genna indicated “MVNOs are ready to punctually launch the RLAH regime. However, as we pointed out during the legislative process, the entire mechanism, in particular the wholesale caps, must be strongly revised to eliminate competitive unbalances that, at the end, would be detrimental for the consumer in terms of tariffs, variety of offers and innovation”.

As an association, we call for the European Commission to conduct an in-depth analysis of the impact of the end of roaming surcharges on all market segments, including Internet of Things (IoT), ahead of the launch of the review of the wholesale roaming caps planned for December 2019 and ensure that the regulated caps reflect actual costs.

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Teledema joins MVNO Europe

Teledema joins MVNO Europe

Posted by on Jun 9, 2017 in Uncategorized |

teledema&mvno

Brussels – We’re pleased to announce that Lithuania’s leading Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) has joined MVNO Europe. Teledema was founded in 2003 and unites people across Lithuania, who can enjoy exceptional attention and great network quality.

Lithuania’s small telecom market is among one of the most developed in Europe. Teledema’s success shows that guaranteeing MVNO access to the market is an appropriate way to maintain a strong level of competition while bringing more innovation on the market.

Driven by a sustainable business growth, Teledema has successfully established itself as the reference MVNO on the Lithuanian market by creating accessible and superior quality offers for users. Along with mobile network, they create SIP telephony solutions designed for business.

Jacques Bonifay, chairman of MVNO Europe, said: “I am delighted to welcome Teledema as new member. Having now a Baltic State on board reassert the willingness of MVNO Europe to be a strong voice for MVNOs and be fully representative of the European landscape”.

Innocenzo Genna, Vice-President, said: “Welcome to Teledema! We are looking forward to working together and pursue our common objective to create a more openly accessible market for all MVNOs.”

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Agreement on roaming wholesale caps: impact on competition and European end-users?

Agreement on roaming wholesale caps: impact on competition and European end-users?

Posted by on Feb 1, 2017 in Uncategorized |

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.

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EU roaming regulatory framework at critical crossroads

EU roaming regulatory framework at critical crossroads

Posted by on Dec 2, 2016 in Uncategorized |

This week has been critical for the future of the telecommunications market in Europe. While the European Parliament’s Industry Committee adopted a pro-competitive and forward-looking position on wholesale international mobile roaming on 29 Nov 2016, ministers from the EU Member States adopted a text on 2 Dec 2016 which would allow mobile network operators to apply extremely high wholesale international roaming charges. Parliament focused on the interests of end-users, innovation and competition. Ministers chose to protect large mobile operators. The European Parliament and Council (representing Member States) will now enter, with the support of the European Commission, into protracted so-called trilogue negotiations from very different starting positions.

2 December 2016 – On 29 November, the European Parliament’s Industry Committee adopted its position on the European Commission’s legislative proposal amending Regulation 531/2012. Members of the Industry Committee voted the report of Finnish MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri by a very large majority. By putting forward wholesale mobile roaming caps for data at 4€/GB in 2017 and by adopting a “glide path” approach with reductions to 1€/GB, they acknowledged current market reality and foreseeable cost reductions in providing mobile data services in Europe.

Ministers gathered in the Telecoms Council on 2 December adopted a ‘general approach’, which entails wholesale roaming caps for data at 10€/GB in 2017, with reductions over time reaching 5€/GB.

In the context enabling the abolition of retail roaming surcharges on 15 June 2017, as per Regulation 2015/2120 it is important that retail and wholesale measures are connected. This is necessary to enable all operators to compete on the market by lowering the currently regulated wholesale caps. Today’s Council text foresees that these caps for voice, SMS and data, are kept at a higher level than the ones originally proposed by the European Commission and thus much higher than already existing retail offers on the market. This would force smaller operators and MVNOs that are not able to negotiate wholesale roaming access at lower prices to offer roaming services to their consumers with negative margins. Such a situation will lead to their potential eviction from the market and favour large operators that can trade within their own groups for better wholesale deals, reducing competition from challengers, and foreclosing the market for new entrants to the market.

MVNO Europe welcomes, however, the joint declaration made by the “digital like-minded” group of Member States calling for lower wholesale roaming caps. We urge the Council to adopt a flexible approach when negotiating with the European Parliament, to ensure that the EU regulated caps are lowered, reflecting the actual cost of providing wholesale mobile roaming access.

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