A year ago, new rule – called “Roam like at home”, came into force in the EU (and EEA countries), according to which the roaming charges for mobile phone use are abolished.
The savings just for German mobile users were estimated at an average of € 144 per year, according to the EU Commission.
Significant increase in roaming calls and data usage
Since 2007, the European Commission has successfully worked to reduce the consumer price of roaming, which has fallen by 92%. This has changed the habits of many Europeans who previously used to switch their mobile phones off while travelling.
“The first year without roaming charges in the EU is extraordinary: we’ve seen a significant increase in roaming calls and data usage,” says EU Commissioner and Vice-President Andrus Ansip.
This is confirmed by figures from the European Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications in March of this year. For example, in the third quarter of 2017, Internet traffic with roaming service providers increased by almost 150 percent. “The significant increase in traffic undoubtedly goes hand in hand with the introduction of ‘Roam Like At Home’ services”.
If mobile customers surf or make calls abroad, they usually use the networks of foreign providers. They charge their own provider for this use. In order for EU citizens to be able to surf abroad at the same price as at home, these intermediate payments between mobile operators had to drop drastically. At the data volume from about 50 euros per gigabyte to a maximum of 6 euros. Further reductions are envisaged by the EU regulation in the coming years.
Telefónica expects 2018 sales losses of up to 50 million euros
For German mobile service providers, the omission of the roaming regulation on the balance sheets was noticeable.
According to Telefónica, Telefónica expects revenue losses of 30 to 50 million euros in 2018. “This year, by far the largest share of this is due to the loss of roaming revenue,” said a spokesman.
Vodafone also made 1.4 percent revenue losses in the past fiscal year due to regulatory requirements. However, other regulatory measures would have contributed to this.
From the point of view of the consumer advocates, however, the EU rules still have a weak point: they do not apply to calls from the home country to another EU country.
If a German calls a friend in Spain, it can still be expensive. But only last week, negotiators from the European Parliament, the EU countries and the European Commission agreed to cover these costs in the future. According to this, calls to other EU countries may in the future only cost a maximum of 19 cents per minute.