The end of roaming in Europe: Progress report, one year on

In accordance with the European Regulation, Europeans have been able to "roam like at home" since 15 June 2017, i.e. to use their mobile phones under the same conditions as they do at home when travelling within the European Union (EU) (1). For the people of France, this same framework applies to roaming in the entire country, i.e. in both Metropolitan France and the French overseas departments and territories (2).

From regulation to implementation: the work performed by Arcep and its European counterparts, and by operators in France …

In the run-up to the implementation of the European Regulation on 15 June 2017, Arcep has had an active hand in the work carried out to prepare for the introduction of "roam like at home", both within BEREC, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications, and at the national level by providing French operators with support and information.

Which does not mean that Arcep's actions ended there. Over the past year, Arcep has worked to guarantee that French people can roam like at home, and pay the same price for their mobile services, when travelling within the EU, through close supervision of operators' compliance with the new provisions, to ensure that every mobile product in France is compatible with the new regulatory framework. This ongoing supervision has resulted in French operators rectifying inaccuracies in their price schedules, and in the messages they automatically send to customers when they arrive in another country, correcting certain prices, or adjusting some of their products.

… has paid off: only 0.2% of user reports on the "J'alerte l'Arcep" platform concern roaming in Europe

Operators' compliance with their newfound obligations is thus the result of a sustained dialogue that has borne fruit. Since October 2017, Arcep has logged only some thirty alerts regarding roaming services in Europe on its " J'alerte l'Arcep " user reporting platform.

A real impact on French people's consumption habits

When the "roam like at home" rules came into effect, the people of France were, on average, less well informed than their neighbours: in July 2017, only 59% of French people were aware that roaming charges had been abolished, compared to an average 71% of all Europeans (6).

French people's roaming consumption was very restrained at the time:

  • 75% said they restricted their SMS and mobile Internet use when travelling (7);

  • 28% said they did not use mobile Internet at all (8).

One year later, however, "roam like at home" has clearly altered consumption patterns, and so reinforced the Digital Single Market:

  • in the second half of 2017, mobile calling and SMS traffic from roaming users increased by around 40% compared to the second half of 2016 (3);

  • during that same period, mobile data traffic generated by roaming users increased almost four-fold compared to the previous year (4);

  • roaming French users' data traffic remains substantially higher than the European average: 354 Mb compared to 242 Mb a month, per user, in summer 2017 (5).

Upcoming price supervision for calls within the EU: further reducing costs for European citizens

Close to a year after roaming charges were abolished, an agreement was reached on 6 June of this year between the European Parliament, EU Member States and the Commission, to cap the price that operators can charge for calling and texting within the EU. At the heart of these provisions that are currently being finalised are a cap of 19 eurocents a minute for calls and cap of 6 eurocents per SMS, from the user's place of residence to a European Union country.

(1) Countries of the European Economic Area that are not EU Members (i.e. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) also apply the European "roam like at home" Regulation. (2) Guyana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Réunion, Mayotte, Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon (3) Arcep, Electronic communications market observatory, Q4 2017 (4) Arcep, Electronic communications market observatory, Q4 2017 (5) International Roaming BEREC Benchmark Data Report, April 2017 - September 2017 (6) Eurobarometer 454, July 2017 (7) Digital Market Barometer/Crédoc-Arcep - 2017 edition (8) Digital Market Barometer/Crédoc-Arcep - 2017 edition

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