A draft regulation from the European Commission aims to head off any “abusive or anomalous usage” of mobile services, following the end of roaming charges in June next year.
The Commission gives a few examples of the kind of behaviour it wants to pre-empt, including customers buying a SIM in another EU country where domestic prices are lower to use at home, or customers moving abroad with a domestic subscription from their home country.
“Such situations could have a negative impact on domestic prices, and ultimately on all consumers,” said the regulator.
Its solution is to allow customers to roam at domestic prices for at least 90 days per year. This length of time would serve “virtually all” the needs of EU customers traveling for holiday or business.
However, given the extent of divergence in retail pricing across the EU, then the 90-day rule may not always allow the roaming provider to prevent abuse. So providers should be entitled to require subscribers to log on to their home network at least once in every 30-day period.
In addition, frontier workers who cross borders every day for work, or inhabitants near borders who spend part of their day in a neighbouring state, should not be treated as if they are abusing the system.
Such customers should be able to use their phones at the applicable domestic price for any period of time in any one day. As a result, roaming on any day with a log-on to the home network should not be counted “for the purposes of applying time limits to the consumption of regulated retail roaming services at the applicable domestic price”.
The draft regulation is also needed if a national regulator needs to authorise a service provider to charge a surcharge for roaming, allowable only if the provider cannot otherwise cover their costs of providing the service.
“However, such situations would be very limited due to the proposed fair use policy”, said the commission.
Today’s draft for an implementing act will be discussed with member states following consultation with BEREC before the commission can adopt the implementing act.