Small operators will be squeezed by European roaming tariff changes, says the president of MVNO Europe

Following the recent agreement in Europe on the new tariffs applied to the wholesale roaming market, VanillaPlus
asked Jacques Bonifay for his views as president of MVNO Europe and CEO of Transatel, a French telecommunications company that has reportedly become the first MVNO enabler in Europe.

VanillaPlus: What are the key elements of the agreement reached between EU lawmakers and Member States on the level of caps for the wholesale roaming charges mobile network operators pay each other when their customers connect in another EU member States?

Jacques Bonifay: The level of wholesale caps is the result of long negotiations and compromises between the European executive (the Commission), legislative (Parliament), and telecom regulator (the BEREC) with each member state.

VanillaPlus: If the data caps are too high what effect will this have on the market?

JB: If the wholesale caps are too high, small MNOs (mobile network operators) and MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) will suffer from a margin squeeze. Some operators may be tempted to suppress roaming altogether in certain countries.

They may also ask for an exemption, to be allowed to apply a surcharge to communications. The price will not be superior to the regulated wholesale price.

VanillaPlus: How has the communications sector as a whole reacted to the agreement?

JB: MVNOs complain that wholesale caps are too high. There has been no reaction from operators as far as we know.

VanillaPlus: What effect will this agreement have on smaller players in the communications market?

JB: Smaller players will clearly be disadvantaged.

VanillaPlus: Can the agreement be changed? If so, when and how?

JB: The wholesale caps will be reviewed in the coming years.

VanillaPlus: What other factors or trends are affecting the roaming market today?

JB: The market will always be looking for compensations — we’re already noticing operators increasing their prices for roaming outside of the EU.