As long as mobile phones have been around, roaming has been considered a dirty word. To this day, the word “roaming” still conjures up memories of shaky hands turning on the data for a second to get that important email out, or using the phone and praying there were no system updates in the background chewing up that precious data at ridiculous tariffs (remember the £6/MB which is still seen going to certain countries!)
Thankfully, a few years ago we started to see a drop in roaming charges, eventually settling to a point where one would pay a few pounds a day to be able to use their local data allowance overseas in the EU. Building on that, in 2015, EU regulators then voted to completely remove EU roaming charges, under the initiative “Roam Like at Home”. From the 15th of June 2017 the new rules came into effect and the UK consumer market rejoiced—take as many selfies as you like!
Sounds great! But what’s is the issue?
While Roam Like at Home is fantastic for the average consumer, there are some important points to note for customers who fit outside the normal “consumer” profile, which may have been taking advantage of previous roaming tariff combinations. Two simple examples are:
- A business person / frequent traveller who spends extended periods of time in another country roaming outside their home network.
- A business which has built a selection of global / EU capable SIM products at competitive rates where the SIM is constantly roaming.
To control Roam Like at Home and ensure that consumers benefit while controlling creative business, the EU commission has some safeguards in place to protect the market and the network operators from situations like this. Some of the headline points include:
- A FUP (Fair Usage Policy) that the operator can implement. For example, you may have an “unlimited” home data allowance which could be eventually throttled on extremely high usage at the operator’s discretion.
- Potential extra charges from spending more time roaming abroad than at home in a four month period. The current extra charges are ¢7.70+VAT per GB, however these will trend downwards over time.
If you fall into some cases where you are a high volume user or have high usage customers constantly roaming in the EU you should check out the EU commission’s FAQ.
What does this mean for me and my business?
If your business does a lot of roaming deals and creates tariffs based on previous roaming regulations, especially with the roaming network time limits, then you will have to take a close look at your charges. Having a large base of UK SIM cards permanently deployed overseas, and permanently roaming could pose risks. Check with your current supplier and query what Roam Like at Home means for your installed base.
It’s important to note that Roam Like at Home only applies to consumer SIM cards with a typical traveller’s profile. In the IoT environment business continues as usual. This is because IoT data is built specifically around use cases. IoT and M2M solutions generally are quite predictable, where there is a known quantity of data, voice, or SMS messages to be consumed—think of a sensor application sending one message a day, or a connected video camera streaming at a certain rate. The confidence in estimating usage allows tariffs to be set up which are tailored exactly to the customers needs.
If you want to know about what EU roaming changes mean for your business, or just learn more about Pangea, M2M, and the IoT drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.