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Minister Denis Naughten statement on the abolition of mobile phone roaming charges in the European Union which come into effect today

15 June 2017
 
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten T.D., today  welcomed the start of the new EU Roam Like at Home regime. From today, EU Roam Like at Home will allow Irish and EU consumers whose mobile plans offer roaming, enjoy a level of service while travelling in the EU that is comparable to that enjoyed at home, at no extra cost, subject to Fair Use Policy.

In a statement the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, T.D. said: “From today shock roaming bills will come to an end. “Roam Like at Home” means that when travelling in the EU, all of us will be able to call, send text messages or surf the web on our mobiles for the same price that we pay at home. Ireland has been fighting hard at the EU negotiating table to bring an end to exorbitant mobile roaming bills for Irish people travelling in the EU and today is a result of all that hard work by officials in my Department. The new system is a win for consumers and will streamline their mobile phone use at home and abroad. It is a good day for Irish mobile phone users.”

Minister Naughten added: “I met with all the main mobile operators yesterday and asked them to give me an assurance that they will be fully compliant with the new rules and are ready for these new changes. I was adamant that costs should not be passed down to consumers in respect of the market effects of ‘Roam Like at Home’ and technically the same level of service must be offered as that experienced at home. Abolishing retail roaming surcharges is an essential step towards ensuring that telecom rules support the establishment of a digital single market across the Union for the benefit of all of us.”

“This deal will be transparent. Customers will receive an SMS upon arrival in an EU country with a reminder of their data roaming allowance and the surcharges that may apply if the free allowance is exceeded. Once 80% of the allowance is used, a further SMS will issue, and a further one again when the limit is reached. Surcharges may apply beyond that point. I can confirm that ComReg will monitor and regulate the situation closely to ensure full compliance by mobile operators here in Ireland,” concluded Minister Naughten.

ENDS

Note to editors

Roaming was first regulated in the Union in 2007 by Regulation (EC) No 717/2007, which imposed maximum wholesale and retail prices for roaming voice services within the EU to protect customers from continuing excessive charges for those services.

Regulation (EC) No 717/2007, as amended, was subsequently repealed and replaced by the EU Regulation 531/2012 (the Roaming Regulation) which came into effect on 1 July 2012.

The Roaming Regulation establishes the policy objective that the difference between roaming and domestic tariffs should approach zero. However, the ultimate aim of eliminating the difference between domestic retail charges and roaming charges cannot be attained in a sustainable manner with the observed level of wholesale charges. For the abolition of retail roaming surcharges to be sustainable throughout the Union and not to distort competitive conditions in domestic markets, national wholesale roaming markets need to be competitive and deliver wholesale roaming prices that enable operators to sustainably offer retail roaming services without any additional charges.

At the same time, roaming providers should be able to apply a ‘fair use policy’ to the consumption of regulated retail roaming services provided at the applicable domestic retail price. The ‘fair use policy’ is intended to prevent abusive or anomalous usage of regulated retail roaming services by roaming customers, such as the use of such services by roaming customers in a Member State other than that of their domestic provider for purposes other than periodic travel, for instance the use of such services on a permanent basis (permanent roaming). Any fair use policy should enable the roaming provider’s customers to consume volumes of regulated retail roaming services at the applicable domestic retail price that are consistent with their respective tariff plans.

Abolition of roaming surcharges

In 2015, the European Parliament and the Council (the co-legislators) adopted Regulation (EU) 2015/2120, which requires retail roaming surcharges to be abolished in the Union from 15 June 2017, subject to fair usage of roaming services and the possibility of applying a sustainability derogation mechanism of the abolition of retail roaming charges. These new rules for retail roaming services in the Union are referred to as the ‘roam-like-at-home’ (RLAH) rules.

Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 provides for RLAH provided that the issue of costs in the wholesale roaming markets have been addressed. In this regard, the European Commission has undertaken a review of the wholesale roaming market, with a view to assessing measures necessary to enable the abolition of retail roaming surcharges, in accordance with Article 19 (1) of the Roaming Regulation.

In addition to this new Regulation, therefore, the establishment of RLAH was accompanied by implementing acts, adopted by the Commission in December 2016, that provide for detailed rules on the application of the fair use policy and the methodology for assessing the sustainability of the abolition of retail roaming surcharges.

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