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You will find below an overview of the main provisions applicable to roaming in the European Economic Area (“EEA”). For more information, you can consult the following sources (the articles corresponding to each provision are indicated below):

“Roam like at home - RLAH” principle

Regulation 531/2012: Articles 2, §2, f, and 6a - BEREC Retail Roaming Guidelines: paragraphs 7 to 16

Since 15 June 2017, operators are in principle not allowed anymore to levy surcharges for roaming services in the EEA.

When customers use roaming services in the EEA, the domestic retail price applies, i.e. the domestic per-unit charge applicable to calls made and SMS messages sent (both originating and terminating on different public communications networks within the same Member State), and to data consumed by a customer.

Exceptions to the “Roam like at home - RLAH” principle

Fair use policy – Normal residence and stable links

Commission Implementing Regulation 2016/2286: Article 3 - BEREC Retail Roaming Guidelines: paragraphs 20 to 25

In order to prevent abusive usage, such as permanent roaming, operators may request from their customers to provide proof of normal residence in the Member State of the operator or of other stable links with that Member State entailing a frequent and substantial presence on its territory.

Fair use policy - Control mechanism

Commission Implementing Regulation 2016/2286: Article 4, §4 - BEREC Retail Roaming Guidelines: paragraphs 26 to 39

In order to protect themselves from abusive usage, operators may monitor, for a period of 4 months, the consumption and the presence of their customers to establish whether the customers have prevailing domestic consumption or presence over roaming consumption. If within the four-month period, the customers have prevailing roaming consumption and presence (i.e. more than half of it), the operator shall warn its customer that a problematic behaviour has been observed. If, within 2 weeks following this warning, the customer does not change his/her usage, the operator may apply a tariff surcharge, according to the terms set out in point 5 below.

Fair use policy - Minimum volume limit concerning open data bundles

Commission Implementing Regulation 2016/2286: Articles 2, c), and 4, §2 - BEREC Retail Roaming Guidelines: paragraphs 41 to 58

Operators may limit the usage of the data service included in a bundle, in RLAH, while observing the conditions described below.

Firstly, the bundle in question must:

  • Either be an open data bundle;

  • Or be a bundle considered as an open data bundle. The following formula allows to determine if this concerns a bundle considered as an open data bundle:

Retail price excluding VAT
---------------------------  = Domestic unit price < wholesale charge
Data volume

Secondly, if this actually concerns an open data bundle or a bundle considered as such, the RLAH volume limit must be calculated as follows:

     Retail price excluding VAT
2x -------------------------- = Minimum limit of the RLAH volume
     Wholesale price excluding VAT

Once the RLAH volume limit is exceeded, the operator may apply a tariff surcharge, according to the terms set out in point 5 below.

Fair use policy - Minimum volume limit concerning pre-paid tariffs

Commission Implementing Regulation 2016/2286: Articles 2, d), and 4, §3 - BEREC Retail Roaming Guidelines: paragraphs 59 to 67

Operators may limit the usage of the data service included in the pre-paid tariff plan, in RLAH. The limit must be calculated according to the following formula:

Remaining pre-paid credit excluding VAT
------------------------------------------------ = Minimum limit of the RLAH volume
Wholesale price excluding VAT

Once the RLAH volume limit is exceeded, the operator may apply a tariff surcharge, according to the terms set out in point 5 below.

Non-compliance with a fair use policy

Regulation 531/2012: Article 6e, §1 - BEREC Retail Roaming Guidelines: paragraphs 69 to 86

In case of non-compliance with one of the forms of fair use policy mentioned above, operators may apply a surcharge which shall meet the following requirements:

  • Concerning calls made and SMS messages sent, as well as data services, the surcharge shall not exceed the maximum regulated wholesale charges, i.e. € 0.32 (excluding VAT) per minute of call made, € 0.01 (excluding VAT) per SMS message sent, and concerning data services, from 1 January 2019: € 4.5/GB (excluding VAT), from 1 January 2020; € 3.5/GB (excluding VAT), from 1 January 2021; € 2.5/GB (excluding VAT).

  • Concerning incoming calls, the surcharge shall not exceed the weighted average of maximum mobile termination rates across the Union: € 0.0085 (excluding VAT)/ minute.

Furthermore, the sum of the domestic retail price and any surcharge applied for calls made, SMS messages sent or data services shall not exceed € 0.19 (excluding VAT)/minute, € 0.06/SMS message and € 0.20/MB.

Derogation

Regulation 531/2012: Article 6c - Commission Implementing Regulation 2016/2286: Section II - BEREC Retail Roaming Guidelines: Section K

In exceptional circumstances, operators who are not able to recover their costs of providing roaming services may submit a derogation application (to BIPT) in order to be allowed not to apply the RLAH tariff system for 12 months.

This application will be accompanied by information demonstrating that the negative net margin generated by the retail roaming services of that operator is equivalent to 3% or more of the mobile services margin (excluding roaming).

To ensure that the provided information corresponds to the European regulations, we strongly advise operators to send the required data via the Excel file created by BEREC (see the annex to the Retail Roaming Guidelines).

Decisions adopted by BIPT concerning derogations are available here.

Transparency

Welcome SMS messages - Calls, SMS messages and data

Regulation 531/2012: Articles 14, §1, and 15, §1 and §2 - BEREC Retail Roaming Guidelines: paragraphs 106 to 121

Operators shall inform their customers by means of a message service, each time (s)he enters a Member State other than that of his/her domestic operator. This message must include personalised information regarding, among other things, the tariffs that apply, a possible fair use policy and the surcharges that may apply.

Bill shock mechanism - Data

Regulation 531/2012: Article 15, §3 - BEREC Retail Roaming Guidelines: paragraphs 130 to 148

Operators make available to their customers one or more maximum financial limits (minimum € 50) during specified usage periods. The operator sends the customers a warning when their roaming services consumption has reached 80% of that limit.

When the limit is about to be exceeded, a notification shall be sent to the customer’s mobile device. That notification shall indicate the procedure to be followed if the customer wishes to continue provision of those services and the cost associated with each additional unit to be consumed. If the customer does not respond as prompted in the notification received, the operator shall immediately cease to provide and to charge for data roaming services, unless and until the customer requests the continued or renewed provision of those services.

Documents

  • Decision of the  of 13 June 2019 on the possibility for Nethys to apply surcharges on the basis of Article 6d of Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 June 2012
  • Decision of 19 May 2018 on the possibility for Nethys to apply surcharges on the basis of Article 6d of Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 June 2012
  • Decision of 17 October 2017 imposing an administrative fine upon Lycamobile for non-compliance with articles 6A and 6E(3) of the roaming regulation
  • Decision of 14 august 2017 on the possibility for Mundio Mobile to charge additional fees based on article 6c of regulation (EU) no 531/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council
  • Decision of day 24 Mai 2017 on the possibility for Nethys to apply surcharges on the basis of Article 6d of Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 June 2012 on roaming on public mobile communications networks within the Union, as amended by Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015

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