EU countries have approved the European Commission’s proposal for fair-use limits on “roam like home,” the EC announced. The council of EU representatives, Cocom, said it approved the rules at a meeting on 12 December, though it has not yet released details. Mobile operators will have six months to implement the changes, by the time all roaming surcharges come to an end in June 2017. Still to be accomplished is the approving of new wholesale roaming rates. The European Parliament and member states have proposed significantly different wholesale roaming rates and therefore must negotiate a compromise. Talks on this matter begin this week in Brussels, according to the Commission.
The end of roaming surcharges in the European Union, hotly anticipated for the past several years, is finally looming. With half a year left to go, the member states, advocating for their own mobile operators and national interests, have given the green light to a set of rules enunciated by the EC, the primary purpose of which is to define the nature of the fair use of roaming. While the EC has not yet released the exact formulation of the rules, they must hinge on the concept of “excessive roaming.” This is defined as a user consuming more data while outside the home country than he or she customarily does while in the home country. In such cases, most likely the new rules will allow for a small surcharge, not to exceed the price caps on wholesale roaming. In other cases, however, the rules are likely to make provisions for users who can demonstrate to their operators that they have a so-called “stable link” to another country, meaning that they have legitimate cause to be there regularly—for business, study, or retirement with regular returns to the home country. If a stable link exists, the operator would make an exception and consider the usage in question not to be excessive roaming. Additionally, the Commission must decide how to apply “roam like home” rules to different kinds of mobile plans.