Proposed EU roaming charge ban could help business travelers, hurt operators

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A proposed European Union law ending mobile roaming charges in Europe could help business travelers but hurt mobile operators.

Many business travelers and their firms have experienced "bill shock" when they receive their mobile phone bill after traveling abroad, particularly if they used lots of data. According to a survey by iPass, close to half of mobile workers have received an expensive monthly data roaming bill more than once per year, with the high bill averaging over $1,000.

To deal with high roaming charges, the EU is considering ending mobile roaming charges across Europe. Currently, the EU caps roaming charges for outgoing voice calls at €0.24 per minute, incoming voice calls at €0.07 per minute, outgoing texts at €0.08 per minute and data downloads at €0.45 per minute. Those caps are set to drop to €0.19 per minute for outgoing voice calls, €0.05 per minute for incoming voice calls, €0.06 for outgoing text and €0.20 per minute for data on July 1 of this year.

If the proposal to end roaming charges altogether is approved by the EU and implemented by member states, operator revenues from mobile voice, messaging and data would drop 20 percent in 2016, estimates Juniper Research. The proposal faces strong opposition from the leading European mobile operators such as Vodafone, Orange and Telefonica.

If the proposal is not approved, then Juniper forecasts operator revenues from mobile data roaming will reach $42 billion by 2018, or 47 percent of global mobile roaming revenue. The revenues will be generated by increased data usage enabled by the migration to 4G LTE networks.

Operators "need to sort out the right economics to encourage more usage at a value to the end users in order to avoid revenue erosion. They need to also provide services that are both relevant and cost effective to LTE roamers," observes Juniper analyst and report author Nitin Bhas.

For more:
- see the Juniper release
- check out the EU roaming caps
- read the BBC article

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