It’s a fact. The end of EU roaming charges is nearly upon us. But it’s not like we didn’t know it was coming. The European Commission has been gearing up the industry up for nearly two years. Roaming charges have been steadily decreasing since July 2012 to get operators ready for this moment.
However, some operators are not happy and are reluctant to comply with the regulations. Some operators have even gone to greater extents to avoid full compliance. An example of this is one operator who changed their price plans from unlimited data which would have applied across the EU to set data allowances for use in their home country and the EU. The catch is that they are now offering unlimited data in their home country as an additional service benefit.
There are other operators who have taken another approach, a laid back approach at that. They put this change in legislation on the long finger but now panic stations have kicked in. Some operators have resorted to getting consultants in to guide them over the transition to ensure that they are fully compliant with the law. There are many systems including charging and reporting configurations required to ensure compliancy as well as to deter from any potential revenue leakage. Operators are going to have to configure each and every price plan to cater for this legislation. Many operators have hundreds of legacy price plans and in some cases the base rates on these plans might be above the maximum charge proposed in the legislation for calls, text or data. Do the operators close these price plans and automatically migrates customers off them. If so, how are they going to communicate this to the affected customers?
The other significant challenge is the configuration of the charging and billing systems. Operators need to update charging and billings systems to ensure that correct rates are applied when roaming in the EU, and where applicable, service bundles are consumed. An example of this would be an Irish person in France, calling somebody in Spain but needs to be treated as a local call. There are many scenarios like this that operators will have to map out and configure for each price plan on both prepaid and post-paid systems.
Some operators are interpreting the regulation in ways that can benefit their business. They are requiring all their prepaid customers to register their accounts with a proof of address. If they don’t register, they don’t get the roam like home benefits. This is a bold move as typically it’s been a significant challenge for operators to get registration details off some prepaid customers.
The fair usage policy is key to the success of the legislation. However, the European commission didn’t cover themselves in glory here as they released the details only for it to be retracted and 2 weeks later another variation released. The policy allows operators to establish the residency of their customers. Then they can monitor traffic over a 4 month period to distinguish between domestic and roaming usage. They have also addressed measures to prevent mass selling/distribution of sim cards across the EU.
There is still a lot of work for operators to do if they are not already all over it. I don’t envy the minefield of work involved as well as the work that all national regulators are going to undertake to ensure that operators are compliant.
We will be conducting a webinar on what you need to know to be ready for the end of EU roaming. This will take place on the 5th of April. Click here to register.
The end of roaming charges is not all doom and gloom for operators, have a read of our white paper on how operators can counter the financial impact of EU roaming legislation. Click here to read more