End of roaming charges Part 2: What is going on with the mobile market?

After the end of roaming charges last June 15, Brussels Express gives you an idea of how your invoice will be.

Have you noticed there has been a massive change for about two weeks when you cross an EU border? As Brussels Express explained before, the roaming charges are now over. It means you will not be overcharged when you are in another EU member state, while calling someone in your home country or using data.

You could probably imagine the mobile market would be impacted by such a change. If you consider the differences of prices across the EU, you could guess the prices should fall down as the operators should all compete together. But if you think about the amount of money the national operators will lose because of that, you could also guess the prices could go up. What will then happen?

What if you spend too much time abroad?

As we had already mentioned, the end of the roaming charges does not mean you can spend thousands of hours per day using your phone as you would do in Belgium.

First of all, every operator can overcharge you in case you do not use your phone on a reasonable basis. Establishing minimum standards would have been too easy to make your communications predictable. If you overuse data and calling credit, you might be asked to pay EUR 0.038 per minute when calling someone (EUR 0.0138 per minute when you receive a call), or be charged EUR 0.0009 per MB on the data.

This system aims to bare the consumers to overconsume, as well as to avoid economic imbalances.

Is everyone concerned about the end of roaming charges?

Unfortunately, you might not be 100% impacted about this reform if you signed with certain operators. The Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) indeed got a derogation to keep on applying roaming charges. The MVNO are those companies that do not have their proper network and they therefore cannot make money on roaming as well as they need to pay.

There are several MVNO in Belgium, such as VOO or Mobile Vikings. Although they both got a derogation on roaming charges, Mobile Vikings has not decided to use it yet. VOO has decided to define some thresholds. A customer will then have the right to use 200MB, to send 60 SMS and call 60 minutes per day, before being overcharged. Even if it is not unlimited, it is still fine if you “normally” use your phone.

Will this reform have an impact on the prices of subscriptions?

It is too early to answer that question. If you compare the Belgian subscriptions with other ones (for instance with the French ones), it is quite expensive to call someone in Belgium. But it doesn’t seem this reform had a huge impact on the Belgian subscriptions yet. A bit more than one year ago, you indeed could purchase a 2h30/month plan with Orange for EUR 15. Today you could get the same plan for the same price, with a bit more on MB included in the plan. Proximus might be a bit more expensive, but it is about the same deal, which means the end of roaming charges has not massively impacted the sorts of subscriptions you could get in Belgium – at least not yet.