The European Union has reached a compromise deal to cap roaming costs for citizens of its member states. Brussels has been working for over a decade to remove the EU-wide roaming costs and this new solution will be implemented on June 15, 2017. However, the EU had one final significant obstacle to overcome, which is to cap the roaming costs that individual operators may charge between themselves. The third set of talks happened on Tuesday and was seen as the last chance for an agreement to be reached before roaming is abolished in June. The European Union has reached a preliminary deal which is now pending ratification. The deal requires that all wholesale data roaming charges are capped at €7.70 per gigabyte from this June and are then dropped to €2.50 per gigabyte in 2022. Call charges will drop from the current five cents per minute to 3.2 cents per minute, and text message costs will be reduced in half and amount to a single cent per message as of this June. However, the European Commission will review these wholesale caps every other year and recommend changes if it considers them necessary.
Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, the European Union lawmaker in charge of the project on behalf of the European Parliament, is thrilled with these latest developments, as she revealed on Twitter. The European Commission Vice President, Andrus Ansip previously explained that he did not wish for the EU to show weakness and an inability to serve its citizens. Therefore, he rallied all parties involved in the talks and pushed them to work hard and reach a decision before June.
The issue of setting wholesale prices across the entire EU territory was difficult to resolve due to different conditions within individual member states. Those countries in the north and east typically offer lower prices to customers and favor lower wholesale caps, but countries in the south which benefit from an influx of tourists favor higher wholesale prices. This is to avoid roaming partners gaining inexpensive access to local carrier networks, which could reduce the profitability of southern carriers and in turn, result in fewer investments into these networks and a poorer user experience. Alternatively, carriers in the south might raise their prices for local customers in order to cover the extra costs associated with tourist traffic.