The summers of 2016 and 2017 will be very important for the international roaming industry. On April 30, 2016 roaming charges in the EU will be lowered to national charges plus maximum surcharges of €0.05 per megabyte for data, €0.05 per minute and €0.02 per text — a very significant step in lowering the roaming premium within the EU. With roaming tariffs now coming very close to national tariffs, EU operators are holding their breath in anticipation of how their customers may respond this roaming season and how roaming traffic volumes will be effected.

Before the introduction of the full Roam-Like-At-Home (RLAH) concept on June 15, 2017, there are two hurdles to clear:First, the introduction of RLAH depends on the European Commission’s ability to determine the new wholesale caps before the deadline of June 15, 2016. The European Commission has already shared their method for establishing the wholesale caps with all European Operators to gather their feedback. One of the main cost components for international roaming turned out to be the national MTR’s. The one big presumption proved to be true: it seems very difficult to come up with one wholesale cap that does justice to all the existing differences between the EU member states.

Second, the Fair Use Policy needs to be determined as well; the deadline for this is December 31, 2016. Nothing is known yet about what the Fair Use Policy will look like: will it be an allowance expressed in amount of days or amount of minutes and megabytes or a combination of the two? One thing is certain, the six months after the determination of the Fair Use Policy will be busy ones for all EU operators implementing it.

Awaiting the developments on the new wholesale caps and the Fair Use Policy, 50% of the EU operators have already introduced some form of RLAH. Examples of that can be found in France, where Orange, SFR, Bouygues and Free offer full RLAH in the EU for the highest propositions of their line-up. Probably before this summer roaming season begins, more operators will follow this example.

PS: The Dutch Tourism Board expects a five-fold increase in the number of tourists coming from Europe to the Netherlands. If you need a good price for un-forecasted traffic volumes, it might be a good idea to contact the iBasis-KPN roaming department for an attractive deal on the best 4G network with the best carrier in the business.

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