A probe conducted by the UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has found “reasonable grounds for believing” that Lycamobile may have breached industry regulations for EU mobile roaming, not least by levying a surcharge and applying overly strict 4G / 3G data roaming limits (mobile broadband).
At present all Mobile Network Operators (MNO) in the United Kingdom are subject, since June 2017, to the new EU roaming regulation (“Roam Like At Home“). In simple terms this means that anybody choosing to use their Mobile (SIM) to make calls, text or use data while roaming around the EU should be able to do so for the same price as they pay their UK operator (i.e. no extra roaming charges), although there are some caveats for data usage.
Despite this an investigation by Ofcom, which began last October, has concluded that Lycamobile may have failed to correctly implement these rules since they were introduced and as such they’ve now issued a notification of their provisional determination.
- Article 6a of the Roaming Regulation by levying a surcharge and/or general charge in addition to the domestic retail price for regulated roaming services to enable the service to be used abroad;
- Between 15 June 2017 and 27 August 2017, customers that purchased a pre-paid bundle were only able to roam within the EEA using pay as you go (PAYG) credit, rather than being able to use their bundle allowance on a ‘roam like at home’ (RLAH) basis; and
- From 28 August 2017 to present, customers that purchased a non-roaming inclusive pre-paid bundle were only able to roam within the EEA using PAYG credit or by additionally purchasing a roaming inclusive pre-paid bundle.
- Article 6b of the Roaming Regulation and Article 4(2) of the CIR by applying, as part of a fair use policy, data roaming limits that are lower than the minimum levels permitted by the regulations; and
- Articles 6b and 6e of the Roaming Regulation by applying surcharges for regulated data roaming services that are higher than the maximum surcharge permitted by the regulations. Specifically, Lycamobile’s charging policy for customers that roamed after reaching their data roaming limit and before reaching their domestic data allowance, exceeded the limits set in Article 6e(1)(a).
Lycamobile now has an opportunity to make representations to Ofcom on the matters contained in the Notification before Ofcom makes a final decision in accordance with Regulation 4A of the UK Regulations.