European Union roaming regulations

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European Union roaming regulations (sometimes called the Eurotariff) regulate the imposition of roaming charges within the European Union. They regulate both charges mobile network operators can impose on their subscribers for using telephony and data services outside of the network's member state, and the wholesale rates networks can charge each other to allow their subscribers access to each other's networks.

Since 2007, the roaming regulations have steadily lowered the maximum roaming charges allowable. A proposed regulation, which has passed the European parliament in April 2014 but still needs to be approved by the Council of the European Union, proposes to abolish end-user roaming charges in the EU.[1] While originally proposed to go into effect in December 2015, the change has proven controversial, and the latest proposal as of June 2015 has a June 2017 effect date.[2]

Background[edit]

The European Commission has often raised the issue of high roaming charges within the European Union. In October 2005, the European Commission launched a consumer website on roaming tariffs in order to highlight the issue, which included €12 for a 4-minute call.

In 2006, when high roaming charge rates persisted the Commission proposed to intervene in the market by setting maximum rates at which mobile network operators could charge their subscribers. The proposed regulation was approved by the European Parliament and by the Council of Ministers, and came into law in June 2007. It required capping of retail and wholesale voice roaming charges from 30 August 2007, unless a special roaming tariff applied. The maximum prices was set to decrease further in 2008 and 2009. The regulation also required that customers traveling to another member state would receive a text message of the charges that apply for roaming services.[3] Originally the capping measures were introduced on a temporary basis and were due to expire on 30 June 2010.[4]

The law was amended in 2009 based on a review carried out under the 2007 regulation. The expiry date of the 2007 regulation was extended to 30 June 2012 and was extended to text messages and data roaming. It also provided for further annual reductions in the price capping until the expiry of the regulation and for compulsory per-second billing after 30 seconds for calls made, and per-second billing throughout for calls received.

Having still found that market conditions did not justify lifting the capping of roaming within the EU, the EU replaced the law in 2012. Under the 2012 regulation retail roaming capping charges are due to expire in 2017[5] and wholesale capping charges are due to expire in 2022.[6]

Proposal to abolish all roaming charges[edit]

In 2013 the Commission proposed to establish a single market for electronic communications within the Union and to abolish roaming charges.[7] The proposal was approved by the European Parliament on 3 April 2014, by a margin of 534 votes to 25. As drafted it would have ended roaming charges from 15 December 2015.[8]

The Council of the European Union has to approve the regulations before they can take effect; a final agreement was originally expected by the end of 2014,[9] though that timeline proved too optimistic.

In September 2014, Reuters noted that the details of the law were somewhat controversial, but still has broad support. To avoid end users abusing the system by subscribing in the cheapest country, and then using the phone mainly or solely in another country, Italy proposed to set a "fair use" limit for how much of an end user's phone usage may be in other countries, an idea "well received by all member states".[1] As of January 2015, IDG reports that the Council might try to delay the elimination of roaming from the original start date of 15 December 2015.[10] As of May 2015, the latest leaked proposal would give users up to 100MB of data, 100 minutes of calls, and 50 texts at domestic rates while roaming, per year. Any roaming charges thereafter would not be allowed to exceed the EU limits for wholesale prices.[11]

The iPhone currently has an 'EU Internet' setting in anticipation of EU roaming charges being abolished. When this setting is turned on, the user will not be charged for roaming in Europe, but currently this feature does not work and will prevent a user from using roaming data within the EU.[12]

Territorial extent[edit]

European Union roaming regulations apply to the 28 members of the EU plus the three non-EU members of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The EU countries have applied the roaming regulation since 30 August 2007 while the EEA countries have applied it since 1 January 2008.

Switzerland does not apply the regulations, despite close relations with the EU in several fields. Charges are considerably higher for EEA residents roaming in Switzerland, and for Swiss residents in the EEA, especially on internet data. Rates vary between €1-€10/MB.[13] Areas which are connected to member states but are outside the EU also don't apply the regulations. Two examples with really high rates for visitors are Jersey and Greenland.

Prices[edit]

Common limits[edit]

All roaming charges for temporary roaming will be abolished on 15 June 2017 (fair-use rules are to be applied). The tariffs covering the interim period between 1 May 2016 and the abolishing of roaming charges in June 2017 are maximum surcharges to the price paid in the home network. Details have yet (as per 30 June, 2015) to be revealed.[14]

In force from 30 Aug 2007 30 Aug 2008 1 Jul 2009 1 Jul 2010 1 Jul 2011 1 Jul 2012 1 Jul 2013 1 Jul 2014 1 May 2016
In force until 29 Aug 2008 30 Jun 2009 30 Jun 2010 30 Jun 2011 30 Jun 2012 30 Jun 2013 30 Jun 2014 30 Apr 2016 15 Jun 2017
Service Unit Roaming limits in EEA countries
(all the prices are in euro without VAT)[15][16][17]
Retail caps (applies to subscribers) or Maximum surcharge from 2016
Outgoing calls to any EEA number price of 1 minute 0.49 0.46 0.43 0.39 0.35 0.29 0.24 0.19 0.05[a 1]
billing interval Not regulated per second starting from 31st second
Incoming calls from any number price of 1 minute 0.24 0.22 0.19 0.15 0.11 0.08 0.07 0.05  ?
billing interval Not regulated per second starting from 1st second
Incoming calls redirected to voice mail[a 2] price of 1 minute 0.73 0.68 0.62 Free
Outgoing text message to any EEA number price of 1 message Not regulated 0.11 0.09 0.08 0.06 0.02[a 3]
Incoming text message from any number price of 1 message Not regulated Free
Data transfer price of 1 Megabyte Not regulated 0.70 0.45 0.20 0.05[a 4]
billing interval Not regulated per 1 KB starting from 1st KB
monthly default cut-off limit Not regulated 50.00
Right to choose an alternative roaming provider (ARP)[a 5][18] Not regulated Yes
Default notification text message with roaming prices Not regulated Yes
Free number to call for detailed roaming prices Not regulated Yes
Free '112' access in roaming Not regulated Yes
Wholesale caps (Operator to Operator)
Outgoing calls to any EEA number price of 1 minute 0.30 0.28 0.26 0.22 0.18 0.14 0.10 0.05
billing interval Not regulated per second starting from 31st second
Inbound calls same as termination of a non-roaming call on the visited network, see Termination rates.[a 6]
Outgoing text message to any EEA number price of 1 message Not regulated 0.04 0.03 0.02
Incoming text message from any number Not regulated Free
Data transfer price of 1 Megabyte Not regulated 1.00 0.80 0.50 0.25 0.15 0.05
billing interval Not regulated per 1 KB starting from 1st KB
Right to use other operators' networks in other Member States at regulated wholesale prices[18] Not regulated Yes
Legend Past
Active
Future
  1. ^ Maximum surcharge
  2. ^ When incoming calls are redirected to voice mail, operators can charge for message recording as much as a sum of their tariffs for incoming calls and outgoing calls back to home country. Beginning on 1 July 2010 operators cannot charge their roaming customers for the receipt by them of a roaming voice mail message. Listening to such messages could still be charged as an outgoing call in the future.
  3. ^ Maximum surcharge
  4. ^ Maximum surcharge
  5. ^ Customer would have the option to sign for roaming contract, separate from national mobile services, while keeping the same phone number and SIM card.
  6. ^ The visited network charges the same rate as it would charge for termination of a non-roaming call. This practice was already required by national regulators before the EU roaming regulations were implemented, so it is outside of the scope of this regulation.[19]

Exchange rates[edit]

For services paid for in currencies other than the euro, the amount in euro is converted to the other currency using the reference rates published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJoEU).

After the adoption of EU regulation 531/2012[17] the retail exchange rate to be used for the relevant year should be calculated by taking the average of the reference exchange rates published in the OJoEU on 1 March, 1 April and 1 May of that year, with the new exchange rate coming into force on 1 July of that year. The wholesale exchange rate however is taken from only the rate published on 1 May of that year.

Local price limits[edit]

Method of calculating[edit]

As the VAT rates and currencies vary across the EU and EEA, the European Commission publishes price caps in euro and excluding VAT. So the final prices for each country can be calculated by adding the corresponding VAT rate and converting to the currency of the country (if non-euro).

For countries using the euro For countries using currency other than euro
x = \left(1+\frac{\text{VAT}}{100\%}\right) \cdot EC_{\text{rate}} x = \left(1+\frac{\text{VAT}}{100\%}\right) \cdot EC_\text{rate} \cdot Ex_\text{rate}
where
EC_{\text{rate}} is European Commission maximum allowed tariff without VAT in euro
{\text{VAT}} is Value Added Tax rate for specified country, given in per cent
Ex_{\text{rate}} is Exchange rate for specified country published by ECB

In order to avoid double taxation, non-taxation or the distortion of competition, an EU member state may, in accordance with Article 9(3)(a) of Council Directive 77/388 ("the Sixth VAT Directive"), include within the scope of its national VAT any telecommunications services used within its territory but billed outside the EU VAT area. When opting to do so, it must also exempt from its national VAT any roaming services supplied by home networks within its territory but used outside the EU VAT area. The inclusion of telecommunications within the scope of Article 9 was requested by the United Kingdom,[20] which subsequently enacted the change under Article 19 of the Value Added Tax (Place of Supply of Services) Order 1992. Consequently, when an EU member state makes this VAT exemption, roaming on networks in the Åland Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, the Canary Islands, Ceuta, Melilla and French overseas departments is subject to the price caps with no VAT applied, because these countries and territories are within the EEA but outside the EU VAT area.

Rounding[edit]

The charge limits for the Eurotariff and the wholesale average charge should be calculated to the maximum number of decimal places permitted by the official exchange rate. This sets the maximum that can be charged in the national currency. Providers may wish in practice to quote charges in whole numbers of currency units, especially at the retail level, although this in practice is not compulsory. In this case, the numbers should be rounded down. Rounding up of these numbers to above the level of the relevant cap is not permitted under any circumstances.[21][22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Julia Fioretti and Francesco Guarascio (26 September 2014). "EU divided over how to end mobile roaming charges". Reuters. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  2. ^ http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/06/30/eu-telecoms-roaming-idUKL5N0ZG01R20150630
  3. ^ Regulation (EC) No 717/2007.
  4. ^ Regulation (EC) No 717/2007, Article 13.
  5. ^ Regulation (EU) No 531/2012, Articles 8(2), 10(2) and 13(3).
  6. ^ Regulation (EU) No 531/2012, Articles 7, 9, 12.
  7. ^ Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL laying down measures concerning the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent, and amending Directives 2002/20/EC, 2002/21/EC and 2002/22/EC and Regulations (EC) No 1211/2009 and (EU) No 531/2012 (COM/2013/0627 final - 2013/0309 (COD))
  8. ^ Staff (2014-04-03). "MEPs vote to scrap mobile roaming fees in Europe". BBC News (BBC). Archived from the original on 2014-04-04. 
  9. ^ Finley, Klint (2014-03-04). "European Parliament Votes to Protect Net Neutrality, Kill Roaming Fees". Wired. Archived from the original on 2014-04-04. 
  10. ^ http://www.networkworld.com/article/2861774/in-2015-eu-aims-to-sweep-away-old-rules-on-data-protection-and-copyright.html
  11. ^ http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/28/eu-telecomunications-roaming-idUSL8N0XP5CO20150428
  12. ^ Brook, Jack. "IT Support London". Online Support Computing Ltd. 
  13. ^ Díjszabások ország szerint (In Hungarian. Switzerland=Svájc) 255 Ft/0,1 MB=€8.20/MB
  14. ^ http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-15-5275_en.htm
  15. ^ "Regulation (EC) 717/2007". 
  16. ^ "Regulation (EC) 544/2009". 
  17. ^ a b "Regulation (EU) 531/2012". 
  18. ^ a b "Digital Agenda: Commission proposes more competition, more choice and lower prices for mobile phone users abroad - frequently asked questions" (PDF). Memos. European Union. 2011-07-06. MEMO/11/485. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-05-11. 
  19. ^ "OECD" (PDF). p. 28. 
  20. ^ "EU Official Journal No. L86, 28.3.97, p. 33". 
  21. ^ "International Roaming Regulation - ERG Guidelines Final Release" (PDF). BEREC/ERG. 2008-01-15. ERG(07)86rev2 081215. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2011-04-01. 
  22. ^ "International Roaming Regulation - ERG Guidelines 2nd Release" (PDF). BEREC/ERG. 2007-08-22. ERG(07)46. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-07-01. 

External links[edit]