These last few days in Brussels the debate on EU Roaming Regulation continues… the big challenge for the EU Regulators is to try and understand if there really is a reason why Roaming is charged at a premium and when Roaming Costs should be slashed.
Countries, such as Poland and Lithuania, where domestic rates are cheaper, are worried that their operators will have to increase prices at home if roaming charges are removed too soon, since companies will still have to pay wholesale charges to other operators when their customers travel abroad.
“We must ensure an early review of wholesale markets’ costs and price caps to avoid those abuses,”
said a Polish government official, referring to the possibility of “permanent roaming” where people would buy a SIM card in a foreign country with cheaper domestic rates and use it abroad all the time.
There are arguments on both sides which are very clear. Yes Europe needs to be more productive and having additional costs for communication doesn’t help with this. But allowing your customer to Roam to another network really does come with additional costs for Operators. Consider this:
- The cost of delivering specific services on another network is naturally higher: The same way if you were to host any customer outside of your home domain, the wholesale fees are naturally higher. But mainly you must consider the Roaming Vendor Costs: to deliver Roaming both Operators have a number of vendors to source for interconnect, clearing and signalling just to offer the service and there is no common market price for these costs.
- The costs of delivering a customers quality of service experience is also higher: To ensure the customer experience remains at least equal to the home network, Operators have to ensure their Roaming Partners have compatible services, coverage and quality of service. For example, how to manage faults on the partner network where the customer is Roaming to.
- You have to manage crucial security elements like Fraud: Not many customers will realise the impact fraud prevention costs Operators. There are around 18 types of Fraud which customers might face in the Roaming scenario. Operators must consider the Wholesale Roaming Cost to deliver real time fraud reporting globally, taking into account that the fraudsters are always on the move.
- Operator groups also have all the above challenges… Operators rarely own the other Operator they are hosting their customer on but if they do, even groups pay these costs when sending their customers to another group network for Roaming. We all hear of the mergers and acquisitions of Group mobile companies but optimisation of quality across groups can be challenging and in many cases is still not complete.
The examples above take for granted that Operators are already launching all the required services (e.g. LTE) in a Roaming context with up to 700 Operators worldwide to support their customers, maintaining and optimising their Roaming experience.
So should Roaming rates be consumed into domestic rates and the cost of every customers Roaming experience be paid by all domestic customers? Increasing the domestic rates for all? Clearly this wouldn’t be fair. On balance, by removing Roaming charges regulators naturally put Operators into a tight spot.
But what about looking at the Wholesale Roaming Costs? Why aren’t Wholesale Roaming Costs generated by Roaming Vendors published and regulated for European Operators?
Currently there could be huge differences in what one Operator is paying to the next for these costs.
In our recent Survey ROCCO uncovered almost 80% of Operators would prefer if Vendors who support Roaming would published their rates… so at least Operators could have a starting point for negotiation.
Last year ROCCO produced a number of confidential surveys on Wholesale Roaming Costs. We asked Operators to contribute to these surveys and they did. Over 100 Operators shared approximate Wholesale Roaming Cost information with ROCCO since we started.
These surveys are still running and we are each week getting more approximate Wholesale Roaming Cost data from Operators. We are building a picture of Wholesale Roaming Cost in Europe and the rest of the world.
If an Operator takes part in our surveys they will receive the aggregated and approximate cost information for Wholesale Roaming Costs for the world and for their region based on numerous different charging plans. Be publish all rates in addition in specific reports for each Vendor type.
To see the surveys we are conducting simply follow this link:
Thank you for reading, your comments and participation are more than welcome.