Feeds

At last: EU slashes mobile roaming fees

Just 12 months until things get crazy

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

From today the EU cap on roaming plunges down to €0.45 (38p) per MB, and €0.24 (21p) for a minute's conversation, but in another 12 months the very concept of roaming will change forever.

The drops represent the first enforced data tariffs, although the EU has mandated drops in the cost of voice calls and SMSes since 2009.

The EU caps roaming rates across the union of member states by requiring all operators to offer at least one tariff below (or equal to) a rate set by Brussels.

That rate drops every year, so from today the price of data goes from 56 to 38 pence a MB and outgoing voice from 23 to 21 pence. Next year there will be a similar dramatic drop - to €0.20 (17p) per MB and €0.19 (16p) a minute for an outgoing voice call - but one overshadowed by the arrival of the "Alternative Roaming Partner".

ARPs become possible from 1 July 2014, but right now there's not a single European network operator fully prepared for the fundamental change to signalling, routing and billing which will be needed. Not to mention the enormous job of customer education which will be necessary if the whole thing isn't going to be a colossal waste of money.

The idea behind ARP is that the end user can select an alternative operator to use when roaming, and decide how that roaming connection operates. So a customer of, say, Vodafone, might decide to make newly established Vulture Travel Comms their roaming partner.

As soon as that customer leaves the UK to travel within the EU, that customer will be in a billing relationship with Vulture Travel Comms, despite the fact that their traffic will be carried by Vodafone's roaming partners and the authentication will be carried out by Vodafone as usual.

If that were not complicated enough, the rules require that all calls be routed through Vulture Travel Comms so they can cheaply connect and provide value added services, so Vodafone has to open both signalling and call routing to make it all work.

The end customer will then be asked if they'd like "Local Breakout". Users must be able to select this option, even if they've no idea what it is and wouldn't want it if they did.

Mobile data, at the moment, is all routed through the home network, so if one is with Vodafone UK then all traffic is routed back to the UK and one's IP address comes from Vodafone. Local Breakout changes that, routing data as a Wi-Fi hotspot would, and so emerging into the public internet within the country wherein one roams (and roams).

How does this impact the UK's mobile porn filters, or Internet Watch Foundation list? Nobody knows, but the industry has just under a year to get it all sorted out.

What's most likely is that almost no one will bother selecting an ARP, and when they do it won't work properly because of a rushed implementation. So the changes will result in lots of money for telecoms integrators and a handful of ARPs going bankrupt shortly after launching, and without anyone noticing.

All of which should restore the EU's reputation for creating hugely bureaucratic systems which serve no one but those who build and maintain them. But until then we have another year of cheap roaming to enjoy, thanks to the uncharacteristic simplicity of the EU mobile caps. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.