How fair are the new roaming regulations?
The European Commission has abolished charges for using mobile phones when travelling in the EU. Telecommunications companies will, however, be allowed to charge extra if customers make a large number of calls in a foreign country. This runs counter to the concept of a borderless Europe, some commentators write. Others criticise that telecom companies will be the big losers after Brussels' decision.
Soon there will be good and bad roamers
The European Commission is severely restricting the freedom of unlimited telephoning with its initiative on the end of roaming charges, tagesschau.de criticises:
“If the EU gets its way as of the summer of 2017 the guiding principle will be: roaming charges won't apply only if the user doesn't make excessive use of this new freedom. It would be up to phone operators to decide whether or not this is the case. … Rather than sending a phone bill, in future Telekom and other operators will put together a customer profile that sorts 'roamers' into the good and the bad - with the European Commission's blessing. And in doubtful cases we customers will have to justify why, for example, we've been travelling around the EU more than usual. The Commission is keeping its promise to scrap roaming with the proposal. But it is violating the idea of a borderless Europe in which we are not tied to one place - and certainly not by something as trivial as mobile phone charges and the profit margins of telecommunications companies.”
Telecom companies the big losers
The EU Commission has left mobile phone providers in the lurch with its decision not to limit free roaming to 90 days, L'Echo comments:
“This measure is a boon for both individuals and companies with regard to free movement in Europe. However, it could cost telecom operators a pretty penny, as they face strong competition on the European market. ... Who will complain when they no longer have to pay roaming fees? Not many people. On that score the Commission, capricious but prudent, has finally chosen to satisfy the majority. In exchange it gives operators the right to punish misuse and impose additional fees if need be. That is small consolation, though, because this hunt will prove complex, as the procedure is vague and ill-defined. There can be no doubt, the operators are the big losers here.”
An end to the roaming scam
The attempts of telecommunications companies to prevent the abolishment of outmoded roaming charges will be unsuccessful, Der Standard predicts:
“Today young people can only shake their heads in wonder at the fact that only a generation ago calls to other EU countries on fixed-line networks cost as much as one euro per minute (and considerably more for mobile phone calls). Not to mention the fact that today they prefer to use whatsapp rather than the phone. The market and competition among many providers have now put an end to such scams. The controversy over the complete abolition of roaming fees must be seen against this backdrop. Politicians have repeatedly promised it would be in place by 2017. Now it turns out there is a footnote that is all too often forgotten. It's called 'fair use'. Until recently national telecommunications companies have earned huge sums thanks to painfully high roaming fees, and they are loath to give them up. The Commission is now siding with them. But it won't do any good: roaming fees are anachronistic.”