Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said: "In a year from now, we'll say goodbye to roaming charges. Our ambition is to abolish unjustified geo-blocking on the same occasion. We also want the cross-border portability of content to be a reality in 2017 so that Europeans can travel with their films, music, sports broadcasts, e-books across the EU. This will clearly be a triple win for European consumers".
Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Günther H. Oettinger added: "We want to make sure that the end of roaming charges works properly for consumers and market players. This is why we come today with a proposal on wholesale roaming markets. We count now on the European Parliament and the Council to keep the pace and adopt it swiftly".
For the abolition of retail roaming charges to be sustainable throughout the EU, national wholesale roaming markets need to be competitive and to enable operators offer retail roaming services without any charges in addition to the domestic price. Wholesale prices are those which operators charge each other for using their network.
The Roaming Regulation entrusted the Commission with the task of reviewing the wholesale roaming markets and making appropriate proposals to enable the abolition of retail roaming surcharges. As a result of the various analyses, the Commission proposes to set maximum regulated wholesale roaming charges at € 0.04/min, € 0.01/SMS and € 0.0085/MB.
As per the Roaming Regulation, operators may apply a fair use policy to the consumption of roaming services at domestic prices in order to prevent abusive or anomalous usage of roaming services by customers. The Roaming Regulation also includes a sustainability derogation clause. The Commission has been entrusted by the co-legislators to lay down detailed rules on the application of fair use policies and on the sustainability derogation by December 2016.
The Commission has recently closed a public consultation on the review of the Recommendation on Termination Rates. These rates are part of the roaming charges, therefore the developments in the termination rates are also important for roaming.
The Commission will assist the European Parliament and the Council in reaching an agreement on the proposal in the shortest possible time so that consumers of mobile communications services can benefit from roam-like-at-home (RLAH) starting from 15 June 2017.
Since 2006 the Commission has taken action to address the high roaming charges paid by consumers for using their mobile phones when travelling abroad in another EU Member State. Regulatory measures adopted by co-legislators in 2007, 2009 and 2012 introduced binding maximum retail and wholesale roaming charges.
In 2015, the European Parliament and the Council adopted a Roaming Regulation, which entered into force on 29 November 2015. This regulation introduced the abolition of retail roaming charges in the Union from 15 June 2017, subject to fair usage of roaming services.
However, the Regulation did not provide for measures on the wholesale roaming market, because additional investigation of market conditions was necessary.
On 30 April new rules on roaming and net neutrality entered into force. When travelling in the EU, mobile devices users now pay a small amount on top of their domestic prices: up to €0.05 per minute of call made, €0.02 per SMS sent, and €0.05 per MB of data (excl. VAT). This will be a short transition period till 15 June 2017.
As part of its review of the wholesale roaming market, the Commission commissioned a Study on the Assessment of the cost of providing wholesale roaming services in the EU.