Operators and EU still arguing the toss over wholesale roaming

When it was first announced, we thought operators wouldn’t be happy that customers won’t have to pay roaming fees soon. Turns out that was pretty much spot on.

It has become one of the great puzzles for the market, trying to figure out how to minimise the hit of zero data fees for roamers. Well, a report from Reuters suggests that, with operators still having to fork out for wholesale roaming charges, Spanish operators want to request a higher-than-wholesale charge when EU roamers start strolling about on their networks.

That is, if the cost to the roaming operator is higher than the wholesale data fee cap – which is currently being determined by the EU.

The theory makes sense, and the Slovakians currently chairing the discussions as the rotating EU presidency want to see a progressive cut in fees from €10.50 per gigabyte down to €6.50 by 2021. It also wants to see a limit of any potential surcharge capped at €8.50 (still per gigabyte); which means the only time the Spanish proposal would hold water is if that progressive cut goes ahead and the wholesale cap falls below €8.50, which is still predicted to be around four years away.

Of course, that doesn’t suit everyone, because Northern and Eastern European countries generally offer larger and more heavily discounted packages and benefit from less tourism – thus their customers go do the roaming on cheaper bundles.

To paraphrase every football pundit ever, your Greeces, Portugals and Spains of this world are all major tourist destinations, so they’ll be the guys hit with the big roamers and therefore will fancy higher wholesale prices in order to recover the cost of having a popular, warm and sunny clime.

In typically bureaucratic fashion, this needs to go and be discussed. We love a good meeting.

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