There are a couple of interesting news items of late, which talk of mobile roaming charges.
One is MEPs vote to scrap mobile roaming fees in Europe which basically says you would pay the same for calls/data/etc when roaming within the EU as you do at home. Another is 'National roaming' plan to tackle mobile phone blackspots which calls for UK inter-operator roaming.
These both have some interesting consequences.
Firstly, if the cost of using a phone on your home network really does end up the same as roaming for normal phone contracts, then the huge advantages that foreign visitors already get by being able to use any UK network becomes even more crazy. It means it will be better to deliberately get a mobile on another EU countries network even if you only ever use it in the UK - it will give exactly what the second article talks about, which is being able to use any UK operator on your phone. In fact it would be better as there would be no need to force operators to do that (already done by roaming agreements) and it would not just be in "rural areas" where coverage is poor, but everywhere.
One of the things that concerns me is how it may affect the services A&A offer, as we now do SIMs, and from next month expect to have roaming SIMs as well.
We are expecting that out cost prices for roaming and non roaming will be different, so I do have to wonder how the legislation will be drafted.
Our prices are simple, for calls on O2 in the UK is is 2p/minute for the mobile leg, and we expect roaming costs to be simple too, the same price for all EU roaming, but a higher price than 2p/min.
If we are actually forced to make roaming the same price as non roaming that means we will be forced to increase the cost of non roaming, which is crazy. Hopefully the way we do things will fall outside the rules by some means and we won't be forced to increase prices.
Of course we have even more complexity as to what is and is not roaming as our roaming SIMs can either have "O2 UK" as their "home network" or switch to "Vodafone NL" as their "home network" if no O2 coverage (or on a menu), so we have cases of a UK user "roaming" to a UK network on a SIM they buy from a UK company, but only some of the time. The calls/text/data costs depend on which setting the SIM is using at the time.
I wonder if I need to have a chat with OFCOM. There is also stuff about 0800 being free from mobiles some time soon, and that may be an issue too as we don't charge differently for any number dialled. The mobile leg is to get you to your choice of SIP gateway, and if that allows "normal calls" then an 0800 would work but we'd still charge for that mobile leg.
I do hope these rules are not going to stifle innovation. I think we have a really cool service with SIP2SIM and it would be a shame if regulations got in the way.
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