From June 15th 2017, EU Regulation No. 2015/2120 requires mobile operators to effectively dispense with mobile roaming surcharges for their subscribers roaming within the EU states. This applies to all regulated voice, SMS and data services (which include MMS messages).
On that date, operators will be required to enact a “Roam Like at Home” (RLAH) policy for their subscribers. Roam Like at Home refers to the ability of subscribers of an operator to roam within the Union at domestic rates. That said, as there is considerable disparity between domestic rates across the EU member states, the regulation allows for a “Fair Usage Policy” (FUP) to be applied to the roaming subscribers. This will ensure that permanent roaming or other such anomalous usage can be minimized.
A public consultation period on the regulation and, in particular the Fair Usage Policy, closed on 18th February 2016 and the results, published in a synopsis report, are somewhat to be expected.
- Consumers want the most generous fair usage policies to apply, to accommodate them for both tourism and business purposes as well a roaming needs in border regions while operators, on the other hand, want stricter fair usage policies that will accommodate infrequent or occasional travellers but not frequent business travellers and border region roamers. Those last two groups, they say, should be accommodated through specific bundles addressing their very specific needs.
There is a general consensus however, that no matter how the Fair Usage Policy is defined in the end, it should be applied uniformly across all member states.
- General consensus again, is that the Fair Usage Policy limits for both voice calls and data usage should be expressed in terms of time and volume, although operators require flexibility to allow for the wide range of combinations to suit the different bundle structures that currently exist.
- With regard to the definition of “Periodic Travel” referred to in the regulation, consumers want a generous definition, while operators would prefer to use the “average annual days abroad in the EU” as a target (7 – 10 days per year).
- Consumers support wholly the view that 100% of a fixed-volume domestic tariff plan should be available while roaming. Operators’ views on the volumes to be covered by Fair Usage are not so aligned. However, one of the more commonly used principles is that during the defined periodic travel time of the FUP, roaming consumption at domestic prices should in any case not be (much) higher than domestic consumption.
- For unlimited plans, however, consumers want the same Fair Usage rules that apply domestically to apply while roaming. Operators, on the other hand, would like to apply rules based on average historical usage.
The implementation of the Fair Usage Policy brings with it its own challenges. Operators are expected to monitor roaming usage in real time and to notify subscribers about the fair usage limits as well as the costs they could incur should they exceed those limits. Even when a subscriber exceeds the Fair Usage Policy the operator is still limited in the surcharges it can apply (which are capped by wholesale caps within EU) for continued usage over and above the limit.
While looking at these maximum charges from a historical viewpoint might be cause for shock among operators, the reality is that the regulation, if approached innovatively, now affords operators the opportunity to appropriately monetize their relationship with roaming subscribers and at the same time improve subscriber satisfaction through effective communication with subscribers while roaming and, as a natural consequence, reduce incidents of the much-dreaded “bill-shock” scenario.
The Roam Like at Home EU regulated roaming market is likely to kickstart service usage amongst the huge group of current silent roamers and with this comes the opportunity to monetize the realtionship with roaming subscribers and at the same time, improve subscriber satisfaction.
In the past, many travellers opted to simply stay data-silent with minimum usage of voice and SMS due to the potential high costs involved. With Roam Like at Home, subscribers are now much less likely to distinguish between service usage at home versus usage within the EU. Ovum predicts that data usage for EU subscribers roaming within the EU will increase almost eight-fold between 2016 and 2020.
The ultimate responsibility though, will be with the operator to keep the subscriber notified when their current roaming allowances are reached, as well as the out-of-bundle costs that will apply for further usage.
Herein lies the opportunity to engage intelligently with the subscriber and to offer bundles to extend the subscriber’s service usage at a reasonable cost to the subscriber. Appropriate bundle offers, at the correct time and in the correct manner will afford operators the opportunity to increase the EU roaming ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) of their subscribers.
One side-effect of the regulation is that it encourages operators to build new, innnovative and lasting relationships with their roaming subscribers. Relationships which can be beneficial to both parties.
Operators can increase subscriber satisfaction by empowering their subscribers to confidently use voice, SMS and data services while roaming within the EU.
Mobileum’s EU Reg IV Solution
Mobileum’s solution not only enables operators to implement the requirements of EU Regulation 2015/2120; its standard functionality can also be extended to further monetize relationships with roamers worldwide, not just within the EU.
Read our whitepaper, “EU Roaming Regulations – A chance to turn regulation challenge into revenue opportunity” to understand how our solution can help you as you move to comply with the EU Regulation 2015/2120.
Click HERE to download our datasheet.