The European Commission has published a Staff Working Document reviewing the rules on roaming fair use policies.

From 15 June 2017, retail roaming charges were abolished in the Union, subject to a fair use policy and a sustainability derogation. These new roaming rules are widely known as "Roam-Like-At-Home". The evidence gathered in today’s report indicates that the rules on fair use policy and the sustainability derogation have adequately worked as safeguards to avoid distortions on domestic markets, as foreseen in the Roaming Regulation.

Review of the Fair Use Policy

As foreseen within the Roaming Regulation, the Commission adopted specific implementing measures and committed to review those by June 2019.

The Staff Working Document reports on the findings of this review of roaming fair use policies and the sustainability derogation.

The findings are mostly based on a survey conducted jointly by the Commission and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) in March 2019 with the participation of 91 mobile operators and 89 mobile virtual operators.

Main Findings

Europeans are roaming more and more

The report confirms that the rapid and massive increase in mobile consumption while travelling in the EU/EEA has revealed the considerable roaming needs of consumers that were unmet before the Roam Like at Home reform. In summer 2018, mobile data consumption while roaming in the EU/EEA was 12 times greater than in summer 2016, the last summer before the Roam Like at Home measures took effect. The volume of roaming voice calls minutes increased by a factor of 3.

Current safeguards are working

The review shows that the existing fair use policy measures constitute a complete toolset, which can effectively address the issues linked to the abusive or anomalous usage of roaming services at domestic price beyond periodic travel, as well as consumption of volumes of roaming data at domestic prices that would undermine the provision of the most competitive data offers on domestic markets.

The sustainability derogation mechanism has been relevant only for a small and shrinking part of the market overall in the EU/EEA. It addresses, as intended, objective difficulties due to specific circumstances in some markets combining very low data prices and high roaming imbalances. Operators that have been granted derogations typically make limited use of it, in order to remain competitive on the market.

The roaming reform has not affected domestic markets

No major impact has been observed on the domestic markets. Overall, the availability of operators’ tariff plans and their domestic tariff structures have been largely unchanged.

Read the detailed findings of the review on the rules on roaming fair use policies and the sustainability derogation.

Next Steps

As required by the Roaming Regulation and in line with the Commission’s commitment to the Better Regulation principles, the Commission services will continue to assess the functioning of the rules on fair use policy and the sustainability derogation mechanism in the context of the full review of the Roaming Regulation due by 15 December 2019.

On 12 December 2018, the Commission adopted an interim report on the implementation of Roam Like at Home rules, which concluded that the introduction of Roam Like at Home has met the needs of European consumers, as evidenced by the exponential increase in mobile consumption while travelling.

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