Roaming in the event of no Brexit deal

The UK government today announced in the event that the UK leaving the EU without a deal, the costs that EU mobile operators would be able to charge UK operators for providing roaming services would no longer be regulated after March 2019. This would mean that surcharge-free roaming could no longer be guaranteed.

Matthew Howett, Founder & Principal Analyst at Assembly comments:

“It's important to understand the underlying economics at play. It's not a question of operators simply looking to seize an opportunity to increase revenue. The fundamental issue being that EU mobile operators would be under no obligation to offer UK mobile operators the regulated wholesale prices for access to their networks.

If wholesale prices increase dramatically then there could be no option but to pass those costs through – much in the same way we see with energy providers. However for that to be the case, wholesale prices would probably have to increase dramatically from where they are, or where they were before the regulation came in.

If wholesale prices don't go up significantly, competition between UK operators could still mean no return to the past. Some operators have defined themselves by offering a roam-like-you're-at-home service before the EU regulation came into being. Many have also included destinations outside of Europe, where wholesale prices have never been regulated, including the US, Australia and Asia."

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Assembly is an independent research firm focused on the analysis of regulatory, policy and legislative developments that affect communications markets and the wider digital economy.

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