EU states agree caps on wholesale roaming charges

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

Proposals from Slovakia and Spain receive backing ahead of June introduction of "roam like at home"

European Union states have agreed to a compromise that will lower the caps on how much mobile operators can charge each other to keep customers connected while roaming.

The roaming cap, which is due to come into place in June, is aimed at ending retail roaming fees for EU citizens while travelling across the bloc, but has proved unpopular with operators.

One of the key sticking points over the policy was around wholesale charges for data, with fears amongst EU members that failure to low the cap on these charges could lead to some refusing to offer roaming, or attempting to recoup lost revenue by increasing prices.

Slovakia issues a proposal, backed by EU envoys, to put into place a glide path for wholesale charges that will see them capped at ¢1 per megabyte (€10 per GB) in June. This would then halve from June 2021, making the average over five years €7.30 per GB, lower than the €8.50 per GB proposed by the European Commission.

The EU also backed a separate proposal from Spain that would allow operators hosting EU tourists on their networks to charge more than the wholesale cap in exceptional circumstances if they are unable to recover costs. This would need prior approval from state regulators. This exception would be limited to €8.50 per GB.

The Council voted 16 to 12 in favour of the higher priced proposals, according to Politico, though this still needs to be approved by ministers and ratified by the European Parliament. Reuters claimed the former is unlikely to occur until December.