19 October, 2016
ETNO and GSMA members’ position on the fair use limits in terms of volume
ETNO and GSMA would like to underline that while customers will enjoy free roaming beginning in June 2017, telecom operators will still be required to continue providing for the corresponding technical and commercial arrangements at the wholesale level
Brussels, 19 October 2016 – The telecoms industry is committed to the objectives of EU Regulation 2015/2120, which foresees the abolition of roaming retail surcharges by June 2017 for periodic travel in EU and EEA countries and aims to avoid distortions of domestic and visited markets. The achievement of these objectives is crucial in allowing Europeans to enjoy Roam-Like-At-Home (RLAH) services, while ensuring that there are no abuses and that markets continue functioning properly.
To this end, we believe that regulatory certainty and consistency are paramount, as lack thereof could pave the way for legal challenges. In this context, we are deeply concerned regarding the inconsistencies between the latest European Commission Draft Implementing Act on roaming fair use and EU Regulation 2015/2120, as well as the Draft Implementing Act’s effectiveness in preventing distortions on national markets. Observers from the financial community have reacted critically to the latest proposal and pointed to the potentially disruptive effects of the rules on national retail and wholesale markets.
Furthermore, in BEREC’s opinion on the matter last week (link), European Regulatory Authorities questioned the consistency of key provisions of the Draft Implementing Act with the scope of the Regulation. More specifically, BEREC underlined that:
The Regulation clearly grants a right for RLAH to customers within certain limits, whereas the current Draft Implementing Act could be interpreted as not foreseeing any kind of limit. This is of utmost concern, especially with regards to unlimited offers.
BEREC is concerned that “the proposed rules do not allow roaming providers to efficiently limit RLAH to periodic travel” in accordance with EU Regulation 2015/2120.
ETNO and the GSMA strongly concur with BEREC that these are key aspects that need to be addressed in the forthcoming Implementing Act.
In particular, ETNO and GSMA members would like to reiterate that fair use limits in terms of volume are required to fight against abuses or anomalous use. Simple volume-based fair use limits would help address problems of abuse and anomalous behaviour, while also improving sustainability for some operators and clarity for customers.
We would also like to take this opportunity to comment on some specific proposals included in the BEREC opinion, as follows:
BEREC´s inclusion of a limit for unlimited and very large offers is, in itself, positive. However, the proposed limit set at the average among the three highest EU domestic consumptions is still too high, as it would result in a limit of 1429MB/month (based on BEREC figures published in their Opinion on RLAH from December 2014). This limit would be five times the EU average and 89 times Hungary´s domestic average.
BEREC considers restricting operators’ ability to react against potential abuses and resort to immediate action against fraud. The fair-use policy should not impact on existing fraud and arbitrage detection and prevention practices that mobile operators have been using as part of their regular operations management.
ETNO and GSMA would like to underline that while customers will enjoy free roaming beginning in June 2017, telecom operators will still be required to continue providing for the corresponding technical and commercial arrangements at the wholesale level. Roaming means that customers are free to travel abroad for business or holidays and enjoy connectivity services when landing in a country where their domestic operator does not have its own network. For this to happen, we need an easily implementable, solid and effective fair-use clause that ensures a proper functioning of domestic and visited markets by protecting consumers and companies from abuses.
EU Regulation 2015/2120 has been designed to provide such safeguards. For this reason, its precise and faithful implementation is a precondition to the sound functioning and legal certainty of European telecoms markets.