Chile’s Ministry of External Relations has informed Brazil’s National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) of the postponement of the agreement on the introduction of zero-rate roaming between the two countries. The agreement, which was originally scheduled to take effect in January, has been postponed to 25 July.
The end of extra charging for roaming is part of a Free Trade Agreement signed between Brazil and Chile and enacted in 2022. According to the terms, mobile operators and MVNOs that offer international roaming services to users travelling in Chile must practice the same tariffs and prices charged in the customer’s service plan in Brazil – and vice-versa – whether for calls, SMS or mobile data use.
During 2022, several companies introduced zero-rated roaming, or “roam-like-at-home,” promotions, such as Orange Kuwait and Vodafone Turkey. In addition, a number of companies offered zero-rated roaming during specific, high-travel moments, such as the World Cup in Qatar, the Hajj season, and the war in Ukraine.
However, while most of these roaming offers were ultimately company-led initiatives, the zero-rated roaming set to start between Brazil’s and Chile’s operators is (going to be) a government-directed change. A number of operators in the UK have gone back on their promise not to bring back roaming fees now that they have left the EU. The European Union has long required telecoms to provide zero-rated roaming for travel within the EU, but so far, most other countries have left roaming charges up to the telecoms themselves.
This, of course, could change.
Although implementation of the Brazil-Chile zero-rated roaming requirement is currently on hold, it is worth paying attention as the situation develops. With the return of international travel post-pandemic, roaming has become a feature of greater importance in the global telecom marketplace.
Ultimately, no operator wants to miss out on the revenue opportunity presented by the upswing of international travel. Case in point is operators in the UK, now free of EU restrictions, which have begun reintroducing roaming fees. If, however, a government decides to step in and regulate prices, operators will have no choice.