UPDATED: An EC consultation found “differing perceptions” among operators about how effectively the wholesale market for roaming services is working, as a group of smaller European operators and MVNOs argued significant price cuts are needed.
The Commission noted a number of trends, and that operators were split.
Larger players, and those with a significant inbound traffic volume, argued competition means wholesale roaming prices are often below the existing cap.
In contrast, smaller operators and those with large outbound roaming traffic, as well as MVNOs, said the prices available to them on the wholesale market are at, or close, to the current cap – and substantially above cost.
A group of smaller operators and MVNOs earlier published a statement, warning of negative consequences if the EU does not oversee a reduction in wholesale rates.
The group brings together three of Europe’s smaller operators, Free, 3 and Play, as well as group MVNO Europe, whose members include Liberty Global, Fastweb, Sky, TalkTalk and PosteMobile.
The aim of the EC review and legislation is to bring down the current regulated wholesale roaming caps, which were set in 2012. The cap is the maximum price an operator has to pay a visited network when its users are roaming abroad.
“Without any further steep reduction of these caps, a large number of mobile operators may decide or be forced to impose restrictions to users when roaming abroad through complex and unfriendly contractual clauses,” a statement warned.
“This would be a disappointing outcome for European users, and it should be avoided at all costs. It would also go against the European Parliament’s repeated calls to end roaming surcharges once and for all,” it added.
The European Commission intends to publish its wholesale roaming review, and any legislative proposals, not later than 15 June this year, to enable sufficient time for the whole process to be completed with the European Parliament and Council by a 15 June 2017 deadline.