EU Roaming Regulation: Fair Use and Permanent Roaming

To prevent ‘abusive’ or ‘anomalous’ roaming behaviour, MNOs will set limits, to the usage, of the EU roaming services that subscribers can consume.

The ‘Roam Like at Home’ standards consider that tariff plans allowing unlimited use of data are more likely to be subject to organised reselling to persons not residing in the member state of the MNO.

Therefore abusive roaming could consequently lead to the withdrawal of unlimited data offers in the MNOs home member state or restrictions to roaming.

Subscribers that “open” data bundles (i.e. through unlimited plans or at a very low “implicit” price compared to the regulated wholesale cap) will be limited in terms of the amount of data that is subject to Roam Like at Home.

The European commission states to EU Subscribers:

“You can Roam Like at Home whenever you are in an EU country other than the country where you actually live (your effective home). If you move to and establish a durable residence in another EU country, you will no longer be able to benefit from roam like at home offers from an operator in the country you came from. You will be able to roam like at home with a mobile subscription of your new country of residence when you travel abroad in the EU.”

“If at home you have unlimited mobile data or very cheap mobile data, your operator may apply a safeguard (fair use) limit on data use while roaming. If this is the case, the operator will have to inform you in advance about such a limit and have to alert you in case you reach it. That safeguard limit will be high enough to cover most, if not all, of your roaming needs. Beyond this threshold, you can continue data roaming, subject to a small charge (maximum €7.70/GB + VAT; this will decline gradually to reach €2.50/GB as of 2022).”

“Beyond roam like at home fair use policy, your operator may apply a small charge on roaming consumption:

  •     3.2 cents per minute of voice call made (+VAT)
  •     1 cent per SMS (+VAT)
  •     €7.7 per GB of data (+VAT) (less than 1 cent per MB)

For data, this is 6.5 times less than today’s roaming charge and 26 times less than the charge billed in 2015. For calls made, this is 36% less than today’s charge and six times less than the charge in 2015. For SMS, this is 50% less than today’s charge and six times less than the charge in 2015.”

Fair use policies are intended to prevent abusive or anomalous usage of regulated retail roaming services by roaming customers, such as permanent roaming.

Any fair use policy should enable the roaming provider’s customers to consume volumes of regulated retail roaming services at the applicable domestic retail price that are consistent with their tariff plans.

The EU Roaming Regulation include procedures on how operators could tackle abusive or anomalous usage at wholesale level.

MNOs cannot however react on individual basis against customers/SIMs. MNOs can only react only when significant abusive usage is detected within an MNO.

Actions against these abuses are typified and subject to a specific procedure including the Home and Visited National Regulatory Authority, the European Commission and BEREC.

MNOs can however establish fair usage based on the ‘stable links’ or residence that an end user has with the country of his home provider

Stable links take into consideration:

  • Employment in MNO country full or part time,
  • Students
  • Retired people
  • Posted workers

Subscribers can also be asked to provide proof of their residency in line with national customs, such as their billing address for other services provided in the HPMN country.

So in short permanent roaming is not allowed. It is likely that MNOs will limit their Fair Use Policy to a maximum of a few months.

More about Roaming Regulation coming tomorrow…