On 15 June mobile premium charges for roaming across the Eurozone will end
This roaming regulation introduced by the European Commission (EC), now commonly referred to as ‘Roam Like At Home’ (or RLAH), will finally end premium charges for customers roaming across the Eurozone. It will affect all European mobile operators and create a much more competitive landscape for mobile services across the region. From this point forwards EU customers will be able to use their domestic usage quotas (for data, voice and SMS) when roaming within Europe.
For the last 10 years, the EC has been working to reduce the roaming charges that telecom operators apply to their customers each time they go abroad either for leisure or business.
Roaming services are currently considered a high-margin product for mobile network operators, accounting for an average of 2.4% of operators’ service revenues. The impact of the regulation changes to operator revenues and margins, both domestic and roaming, will be significant, with a predicted immediate drop of around 50-60% of EU roaming revenues estimated across the region.
Beyond this immediate impact, operators should be preparing for a major change in customer attitude, and therefore behaviour in relation to use of mobiles whilst roaming. This presents an unknown in terms of future service costs and overall profitability of (EU) roaming as a service.
The key impacts of the RLAH regulation are:
- Revenues and margins - present a significant threat to both domestic and roaming revenues and margins, of all affected operators (MNOs and mobile virtual network operators).
- Change management - business compliance will need to be treated as high priority and should be subject to stringent risk management methods as a result of the significant billing system changes required (i.e. tested thoroughly, clear acceptance criteria agreed, mitigation plans prepared, ‘early-life’ usage monitored closely etc.).
- Business as usual - operators will have to monitor the precise impact of this regulation on data, voice and SMS service revenues at a granular (roaming partner) level.
Due to a combination of the regulations that mobile operators must comply with, the inherent complexity and the uncertain nature of its impact in terms of customer behaviour and market dynamics, all operators should be monitoring the implementation of the new legislation closely to validate and optimise their business systems and policies.
For more information regarding the legislation, key ‘margin assurance’ risks in relation to the implementation of the regulation; and the in-life management of roaming services in this new regulatory context see Grant Thornton’s white paper RLAH risk assessment (PDF) [ 761 kb ] or contact Paul Jefferies.