As of June 15, 2017, the EU’s rules have changed – they removed the extra roaming surcharge to mobile users. As consumers are traveling abroad throughout Europe they can now use their mobile phones –like at home – without paying roaming fees.
Creating a global digital marketplace has been long-time goal of the EU and in 2015 they announced a single digital market – where Europeans can access digital content like streaming videos, online shopping, throughout Europe, which is thought to expand the global economy. Abolishing roaming charges only supports that vision.
“This is an example of an EU that concretely improves the life of European citizens. Roam like at home is working: customers are appreciating it, consumption is up and the demand for mobile services while travelling in the EU is very high. It benefits consumers and operators alike,” states Mariya Gabriel, the Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society.
In fact, a Eurobarometer survey for the European Commission notes that since June 15, mobile data roaming in the EU rose to 31% up from 15%. The Eurobarometer survey also highlights that operators have noticed a three to six time increase in data traffic that they partially attribute to the new policy changes.
This recent purge of carrier roaming charges will encourage users to spend more time on their mobile devices – specifically to consume more content, since users are no longer concerned about additional charges stemming from data roaming.
The ripple effect will inevitably prompt carriers to offer an extended portfolio of travel-related and business utility subscription-based added-services such as maps, trip recommendations, accommodations, etc. in an effort to create a revenue stream and to make up for the loss of profit they experience with the absence of roaming charges. Operators will be eager to offer services that will compliment the new regulation and provide users with relevant content throughout their European travels.
With the loss of roaming revenue; the opportunity for other channels of income seem apparent. Especially when US operators have just recently offered free subscription content to their users as a value add – seen with T-Mobile offering users free subscription services to Netflix and AT&T following suit with their HBO offering. Mobile subscription-based services seem to be in vogue as a means of creating customer loyalty, and revenue to the operator. With the EU opening the door to create one, large digital marketplace it will certainly encourage operators to offer the digital content that will attract and retain their users.
We’re trying to create a Europe without digital borders,” states Roberto Viola, director general of the European Commission’s digital policy unit to The New York Times.
The absence of digital borders will inevitably create a competitive marketplace, where operators need to compete for subscribers and subscribers can demand the content they want. And with that demand, comes more content and more services that will benefit the user and consequently the European economy. And yes, with that also comes a cheaper phone bill.