European Commission introduces new roaming mechanism to appease telcos

mobile, roaming, European Commission

The European Commission’s troubled roaming regulation was given another tweak today in a bid to get approval from operators.

Brussels has redrafted key parts of its proposals to introduce a measure that allows operators to check how consumers roam and charge them accordingly should they abuse fair usage.

Following complaints from the telecoms industry, the Commission was forced to drop proposals that allowed people to roam without charge for at least 90 days per year earlier this month.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said last week the proposals were not technically wrong but had been written by “a well-meaning official”.

The new mechanism allows operators to check usage patterns to determine if a “non-exhaustive list of criteria” is abused.

The criteria include “insignificant” domestic traffic, when measured against roaming traffic, long inactivity of a SIM card used primarily for roaming, plus the subscription and sequential use of multiple SIM cards by the same customer while roaming.

Should such “abuses” take place, operators will be able to charge customers a fee.

The Commission has proposed a maximum of €0.04/min per call, €0.01/SMS and €0.0085/MB.

Although the 90-day roaming limit has been dropped, thereby enabling the Commission to say consumers can "roam like at home", the proposed charges do mean that roaming will be free entirely from next July.

Operators must put in place complaints procedures that enable customers to contest any fees that are levied.

If the dispute persists customers will have to complain to the national regulatory authority that will settle the case, the Commission said.

Brussels has also implemented safeguards for operators should price increases or “other negative effects” affect customers in a specific market.

In such a case, operators in that market will be allowed to apply the same small surcharges that affect roaming abusers on a temporary basis.

Günther H Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said: “Today's draft rules ensure we can end roaming charges as of 15 June 2017 for all people who travel periodically in the EU, while ensuring that operators have the tools to guard against abuse of the rules."

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