Christian Engström, Pirat

20 september 2011

Proposing a 10 Euro Per GB Cap On Data Roaming

Filed under: informationspolitik,Roaming — Christian Engström @ 10:41

A price cap of 10 euro per GB on data roaming is sustainable and will help boost the European economy and the single market

The EU Commission has put forward a proposal for continued price regulation of roaming charges (i.e.: when you use your phone or computer abroad) for mobile phone calls, text messages, and data traffic.

The European Parliament will decide on the proposal this autumn, and it is going through the relevant committees right now. On the Commission’s PreLex page you can find the relevant documents, including the proposal itself.

I agree with the Commission that we need to continue to regulate prices for roaming, and I will support it when it comes up in the EU Parliament. I think the suggested price caps for voice and text messaging are quite reasonable.

But when it comes to data roaming, I think we need to put the price caps considerably lower than what the Commission proposes, if it is to have any positive effect.

The Commission proposes price caps for data roaming for both wholesale (what telecom operators may charge each other), and for retail (what they may charge the consumers).

In Article 11 and 12 of the proposed regulation, the Commission proposes wholesale caps of 30, 20 and 10  eurocent per megabyte from 1 July 2012, 2013, and 2014, respectively, and retail caps (excluding VAT) of 90, 70, and 50 eurocent, at the same dates.

When the caps are expressed in megabytes like this, they perhaps look reasonable at first glance. But in actual fact, they are way too high.

”To produce 1 GB of mobile data transfer costs about 1 dollar, and a client with a smartphone uses about half a GB per month,” says the head of R&D at Ericsson, Håkan Eriksson, in an article published last year in Swedish technology journal Ny Teknik (translated).

Note that he is talking about gigabytes, i.e. 1000 megabyte.

This is the relevant unit to use when discussing the data roaming prices, and this is the first amendment I would like to make to the Commission’s proposal. From now on, I think that all prices should be expressed per gigabyte, both in the regulation itself and in the warning messages to consumers that are stipulated by the regulation. This makes it much easier for everybody, including consumers, to see what kind of money we are really talking about.

Reformulated in gigabytes, the Commission is thus proposing wholesale caps of

  • 300 euro per gigabyte from 1 July 2012,
  • 200 euro from 1 July 2013, and
  • 100 euro from 1 July 2014,

and retail caps (excluding VAT) of

  • 900 euro per gigabyte from 1 July 2012,
  • 700 euro from 1 July 2013, and
  • 500 euro from 1 July 2014.

Considering that the production cost for the telecom operators is less than 1 euro per gigabyte, as evidenced by Ericsson’s R&D chief, these caps make little sense.

Not only are they unreasonably high in general, considering the underlying production costs. More importantly, they are meaningless when it comes to opening up the internal market for data roaming. Even three years from now, when the lowest retail cap is planned to go into force, an average user consuming half a GB would still have to pay 250 euro per month to use his smartphone abroad. This far to high to get people to start using their smartphones abroad without thinking about the cost all the time.

I will instead propose in the relevant committee that we should introduce a wholesale cap of

  • 10 euro per gigabyte from 1 July 2012,

and retail cap (excluding VAT) of maybe

  • 20 euro per gigabyte from 1 July 2012,

This is drastically lower (and faster) than the Commission’s proposal, but it would still leave the telecom operators with a markup on the production cost of more than 1000%.

If there are any (big incumbent) telecom operators out there who feel that they are unable to run their business on only a 1000% markup, then quite frankly they shouldn’t be running a business at all. If this is the case (which of course it isn’t), then they are more than welcome to return their frequency spectrum licences, and let more competent competitors take over instead.

The digital infrastructure is one of the most important enabling factors for economic growth in Europe. The fact that it is impossible today to buy a mobile subscription that lets you use data roaming at a reasonable price wherever you are in the EU is a major obstacle, both to companies who want to develop new applications for smartphones and portable computers, and to business in general.

If European businessmen can’t use their phones and computers as they are used to just because they cross a border, then it is ridiculous to even talk about an internal European market.

This is not about what may or may not be best for the telecom industry as such. It is a big industry, and it is economically important, but it is not the only one. Even if I am confident this regulation will be good for telecom industry as well, because it will open up a whole new market segment, that is not the primary purpose.

This is about creating the best conditions for strong and sustainable growth in all sectors of the European economy. An infrastructure that works across the borders is absolutely necessary to achieve that.

We should regulate as little as possible, but not less.

This is a good principle for legislators and politicians in general. We shouldn’t introduce a lot of unnecessary rules and regulations just because we can. But if we have to, we have to, and in this case we obviously do.

For once, we politicians can do something that is both popular, sensible, and sustainable, delivers results quickly and improves the economy, without even costing the tax-payers any money.

At a time when Europe’s economy needs all the help it can get, this is too good an opportunity to be missed.

…………

Others on the subject: Europeans for Fair Roaming

Tags: , , ,

30 kommentarer

  1. Whoever proposed the first prices must either have a very deep pockets, or are not using a phone with data (Or paying the data on their own budget).
    €900 for 1 GB is ludicrous, even €500 is absolutely insane.
    I use somewhere around 1-1,5GB per month on my smartphone alone, this is not counting the Laptop usage.
    So I guess I’m happy I don’t travel much.
    The few times I do go abroad I usually get a local pre-pay SIM-card.

    Kommentar av BL — 20 september 2011 @ 11:24

  2. How about a simpler approach that recognizes the additional work of roaming – without pinning specific prices to things. (prices rapidly become out of date and unhelpful)

    In normal situations, you get data/minutes and the whole infrastructure is provided by your home Telco.

    With roaming, there is a second Telco getting involved.

    It’s simplistic – but let’s say that this makes things twice as expensive to do.

    Now say that carriers can charge twice as much as normal for roaming. If you are using voice/data/txt in a bundle, then one minute/txt/gig can take two minute/txt/gig from your balance back home.

    Now we have to be a bit reasonable with the carriers; If Tmobile uk doesn’t want to do a roaming agreement with any company in Germany, then they don’t have to. But if they have a roaming agreement for any of their customers, then they must have it for all of them.

    Now we leave the market to sort it out. Consumers know that things are simple (you use your minutes/txt/data twice as fast or pay twice as much as normal). Carriers are unlikely to not setup roaming agreements with specific countries – but if the British telcos are unwilling to agree a reasonable wholesale rate, then the German telcos are not forced to make an agreement.

    Kommentar av Rob — 20 september 2011 @ 12:30

  3. Rob: When communicating with other machines on the internet, I’d say that almost never only one telco is involved in handling that traffic. And I think customers would get fairly pissed off if it wasn’t possible to for instance visit a German website, just because German service providers didn’t want to make deals with Swedish ones. I frankly don’t understand why, from a business and technical point of view, mobile operators have to deal with data in such a different way.

    Kommentar av Stefan H — 20 september 2011 @ 12:54

  4. For the sake of correctness, a gigabyte is 1024 megabytes, not 1000.

    Having said that I could not agree more with your post.

    Kommentar av jorgeml — 20 september 2011 @ 14:22

  5. @jorgeml You are mixing up Gibibytes and Gigabytes here, a Gigabyte is as said above exactly 1000 Megabyte while a Gibibyte would be 1024 Mibibytes. So there is nothing wrong in the article, it is just you who are mixing up two diffrent units for determining digital size.

    Kommentar av Liquide — 20 september 2011 @ 15:39

  6. Sorry, Mebibyte not Mibibyte🙂

    Kommentar av Liquide — 20 september 2011 @ 15:41

  7. Thanks Liquide for the clarification. I just checked the Wikipedia and indeed you are right. I am used to the old convention, I need to upgrade myself🙂.

    Kommentar av jorgeml — 20 september 2011 @ 15:56

  8. I agree in principle but 10 euro per GB seems like stretching it too far.

    This is by the way no typical pirate issue, that’s probably why I agree with Christian in this case.

    Kommentar av nejtillpirater — 20 september 2011 @ 19:54

  9. @nejtillpirater This is actually a very much a ”typical pirate issue”. Touches the core values of the movement, in fact.

    Kommentar av anonymous — 21 september 2011 @ 0:54

  10. What would have happened if NTP had just said: ”I agree in principle but 10 euro per GB seems like stretching it too far.”, without the totally incorrect second part?

    Would he have been struck by lightning? Would his ears turn red? Would his cat pee on his carpet? Would his employers stop paying his fee?

    I will check the words ”Obsessed” and ”Corporate Lobbyist” in Wikipedia now, to see if there is a photo attached to them…

    Kommentar av Kung CG — 21 september 2011 @ 7:19

  11. A price of 10€/GB seems high to me, considering the production costs. Still, it would not stop me from using data traffic abroad, like it does today.

    Kommentar av Jacob Hallén — 21 september 2011 @ 9:53

  12. While I agree the ludicruous roaming prices are a problem, the free market liberal in me makes me question the morality of government enforced price caps on private businesses. Can anyone make a compelling philosophical argument for why roaming fees should be regulated by the government?

    Kommentar av Nicholas Miles — 21 september 2011 @ 10:40

  13. Two things are completely whacked with this:

    * The EU doesn’t work, shouldn’t be dictating specific prices, etc. What if the Euro’s value changes completely? A new law?
    * Operators competing against each other providing good services to customers doesn’t work

    The EU should be dissolved. Operation of a nation-wide communication network should be provided by the state (just like public roads).

    Kommentar av Info — 21 september 2011 @ 11:12

  14. @Nicholas Miles,

    The reason mobile operators can run a business in the first place is that the government has given them a licence to use parts of the radio frequency spectrum, which is a limited natural resource. It is then quite reasonable that the government can make demands on how they utilise that limited resource, for the benefit of society at large.

    Also, the regulation I am proposing is essentially in line with what the new small and market oriented operators want. The opposition comes from the big incumbants, especially in southern Europe, i.e.: the former state controlled monopolists who are reluctant to change their old ways.

    Kommentar av Christian Engström — 21 september 2011 @ 14:02

  15. Nicholas Miles: There isn’t a free market in wireless telecommunication infrastructure, since you need a licence to operate it. If everyone who has a licence get together and fix the prices at an artificially high level which obviously is what has happened here, and new providers can’t enter the market and drive the prices down since they can’t get licences, then I would say that there is a need for regulation.

    Kommentar av ANNM — 21 september 2011 @ 14:32

  16. @Kung CG #10

    ”I will check the words ”Obsessed” and ”Corporate Lobbyist” in Wikipedia now, to see if there is a photo attached to them…”

    You don’t have to be obsessed or a ”lobbyist” to be against the politics of the Swedish Pirate party. With that type of classification of persons, a typical member of the Swedish Pirate party (one of 8216 right now) would be obsessed with piracy and a pirate lobbyist.

    Kommentar av nejtillpirater — 21 september 2011 @ 18:58

  17. @nejtillpirater #8 and #16

    Nejtillpirater is just desperately trying to marginalize the Pirate movement in different ways. Now, that he is forced to admit that he is thinking like a pirate in some questions, he desperately tries to make that question a non pirate question instead. He is currently upset about the success of the German Pirate Party in Berlin because he has for a long time claimed that the pirate movement is dying. That is his wish because he hates the pirate movement but he never admits it. It is easy to see this behaviour as well as his false and dishonest rethoric if you follow nejtillpirater in various discussions throughout this forum and make your own opinion.

    Kommentar av Anonym — 22 september 2011 @ 8:58

  18. I’m all with you on a per GB cap on the insane data roaming fees, but the monthly data cap must be an equally insane issue. I was just told by a Telenor salesperson that downloading at the advertised connection speed for more five hours and sixteen minutes a month is considered ”misuse of the service”. Of course, he didn’t use those words, but that is

    Telenor claim they don’t have a data cap on their mobile phone service. Instead, to prevent ”misuse of the service”, they have a ”fair use policy”.
    Looking at their home page, I eventually found a definition of said ”fair use policy” [1], which boils down to anyone using more than 23 690 MB data per month (ten times the monthly average according to PTS [2]), getting their speed ”temporarily” (no definition provided) limited to 0.2 Mb/s, rather than the 10 Mb/s you pay for. Some simple math gives that 23 690 MB * 8 MB/Mb / 10 Mb/s / 3600 s/h = 5.26h. If that is not a ridiculously low cap, I don’t know what is. Except that I do😦, as the largest cap any of their competitors offer (afaik) is 20 GB per month (with a single exception, Universal Telecom, that has no cap, but only offer a speed of 1 Mb/s…).

    References (in Swedish):…
    [1] http://www.telenor.se/privat/abonnemang/telenor-surfa/index.html#T27120_3
    [2] http://www.statistik.pts.se/pts1h2010/RappTab_13.htm

    Kommentar av jonseverinssoninsson — 22 september 2011 @ 18:56

  19. @NTP #16

    My view of the plentoria of posts that you enrich this blog with, is pretty much covered by Anonym #16.

    Fair enough if you don’t agree with CE or the Pirate party, but anyone that makes it more or less his or hers main objective in life (not that far off, actually…) to countersay everything that CE or other Pirates says – not based on the facts of the statements, but more like an involuntary reflex – at least borders to the obsessive.

    I think your post #8 verifies this very clearly. ”I agree in principle but 10 euro per GB seems like stretching it too far.” would be a valid statement that any normal person could utter if that was his or hers view. But the second part of the statement, ”This is by the way no typical pirate issue, that’s probably why I agree with Christian in this case.” is what gives you away. Not only is the first 9 words 100% wrong, but something that you would expect only from someone obsessed with critisisng every word a Pirate says, or someone a few bricks short of an Amphitheater.

    How can anyone, that are able to read a newpaper, listen to the radio news, watch the TV or use an internet browser have missed that the Pirate movement is focusing on new communication technology, and the regulation, promotion and availability thereof (the Internet)?

    In all honestly, if you were to debate the facts, and leave out the knee-jerk reflexes and the blatantly incorrect statements, you would receive a lot more respect from readers of this blog (of whom not everyone is a Pirate, btw…)

    Kommentar av Kung CG — 23 september 2011 @ 12:13

  20. @Nicholas Miles,
    The free market can fail in many ways (monopolies and cartels are some examples). Sometimes government regulation is needed to ensure a working market. In the case of the telecom operators there are to few competing firms for there to be a healthy free market.

    Kommentar av Mårten — 23 september 2011 @ 23:48

  21. @Anonym #17

    ”Nejtillpirater is just desperately trying to marginalize the Pirate movement in different ways.”

    No I’m not. I don’t have to regarding the Swedish Pirate Pary, it’s marginalizing itself!

    ”Now, that he is forced to admit that he is thinking like a pirate in some questions, he desperately tries to make that question a non pirate question instead.”

    Pirates are humans with many different opinions in various matters. I have no problem whatsoever to agree with a pirate in any matter.
    Low costs for using data roaming is something all customers are interested in, pirates as well as others.

    ”He is currently upset about the success of the German Pirate Party in Berlin because he has for a long time claimed that the pirate movement is dying.”

    A bit disappointed perhaps. But I don’t think that the pirate movement has a future in the long run.

    ”That is his wish because he hates the pirate movement but he never admits it.”

    I hate some parts of the pirate movement but not all parts.

    ”It is easy to see this behaviour as well as his false and dishonest rethoric if you follow nejtillpirater in various discussions throughout this forum and make your own opinion.”

    Empty words. What’s false and dishonest?

    I’m completely honest but some pirates here have major problems with accepting that the majority disagrees with pirates.

    Kommentar av nejtillpirater — 24 september 2011 @ 12:17

  22. @nejtillpirater

    ”A bit disappointed perhaps. But I don’t think that the pirate movement has a future in the long run.”

    Since the ”pirate movement” has existed since the invention of copyright and still isn’t dead I think we can safely say that it’s likely to stick around for a while longer. Historically, the only times in which ”pirates” aren’t thriving is in times when copyright protection law is extremely weak.
    Moreover, every time a conflict has peaked, the pirates win in the end. Information control is not a winning strategy, it’s that simple.

    ”Pirates are humans with many different opinions in various matters. I have no problem whatsoever to agree with a pirate in any matter.”

    Since you vigorously assault pirates even over issues such as common jurisprudence and right to unbiased trial I can’t easily find an issue where that would be the case. Facing your history on this forum I would be surprised if you would agree with any pirate even if all he was stating was that water was wet.

    ”Empty words. What’s false and dishonest?
    I’m completely honest but some pirates here have major problems with accepting that the majority disagrees with pirates.”

    Bringing up false facts, Putting up straw man arguments, consistently obfuscating issues with implied or direct ad hominems and of course contradicting the very arguments you’ve tried to use in previous issues as soon as you found them inconveniently undermining your current reason for attacking ”pirate” argumentation all fulfills those criteria. Bluntly spoken, you tend to lie through your teeth.

    And given that we have on this forum roughly a dozen instances of you verifiably lying, your claim of ”honesty” becomes rather pathetic. In one very recent post here I believe the alias ”Professorn” decided actually post half a dozen links showing chapter and verse where you verifiably countersaid even yourself. I have done the same. Even a cursory search reveals that almost every post in which you post more than two lines contains at least one outright untruth – and an obvious one, at that.

    Kommentar av Scary Devil Monastery — 25 september 2011 @ 2:38

  23. @Scary #22

    ”And given that we have on this forum roughly a dozen instances of you verifiably lying, your claim of ”honesty” becomes rather pathetic.”

    Lying? No. So give us some examples then. Otherwise you are lying about my lying.

    ”Even a cursory search reveals that almost every post in which you post more than two lines contains at least one outright untruth – and an obvious one, at that.”

    Untruth? According to your reality perhaps, not mine. And even if we have different opinions, saying something that another person disagrees with is not al lie. Lying is when someone says something that the person knows is not true and I don’t do that. You seem to have a very odd definition of lying and lies.

    Kommentar av nejtillpirater — 25 september 2011 @ 22:18

  24. […] arbetar Piratpartiets EU-parlamentariker Christian Engström nu hårt för att försöka sänka pristaket ytterligare till ca 200 kr per GB. Det är betydligt […]

    Pingback av Roaming ska inte ruinera folk | Anna Troberg | Nyheter24 — 26 september 2011 @ 13:48

  25. @nejtillpirater

    Do you want, chapter and verse, where you yourself gainsay what is in the commentary below, for a start? Just to grab a random specimen from the bag.

    Translation for the english speaking crowd ”I have never compared downloading to rape”. Yes you did. And filesharing to organized crime.

    ”Din lista finns din fantasivärld och överensstämmer inte med sanningen. Jag ljuger inte, jag sysslar inte med personangrepp osv, jag har heller aldrig likställt nedladdning med våldtäkt och det vet du, jag har bara kallat det våldtäkt av upphovsmännen i bildligt tal och varit mycket tydlig med detta. Att du sen väljer att vantolka och aldrig lyssna är mer kritik du bör rikta mot dig själv än att försöka kritisera en nidbild av mig.

    Kommentar av nejtillpirater — 20 september 2011 @ 15:34”

    We have a number of links to the rest of this blog – generally speaking you either lie, deceive, or tacitly implie slander and libel every time you decide to make a statement. The same way you compare the Pirate Party (a political, fully legal party) with the Mafia due to them supporting a fully legal web service.

    The most laughable part would be where you ask me to provide examples on you lying and deceiving when every other thread on this forum contains just such examples. Something of which several commenters have pointed out and linked to. All I have to do is refer to a casual search on your name.

    As for your ”reality” unfortunately facts are facts. That you have no grasp of the technology involved in information transfer and thus usually don’t know what you speak of in the majority of your postings regarding DRM for instance, does not make your reality valid. Only your opinion. You confuse the two which is not a sign of good mental health.

    Kommentar av Scary Devil Monastery — 26 september 2011 @ 16:44

  26. @Scary

    ”The most laughable part would be where you ask me to provide examples on you lying and deceiving when every other thread on this forum contains just such examples.”

    It’s very laughable that you can’t give me any examples. And you still don’t seem to understand the meaning of the word lying.

    ”You confuse the two which is not a sign of good mental health.”

    Ad hominem.

    Kommentar av nejtillpirater — 27 september 2011 @ 20:54

  27. @urban/ntp

    Vad kallar du att skriva en kommentar dar man sager nagot pa ett satt sa att det later som fakta, men I sjalva verket ar det tvart emot skrivna kommentaren. Jag sjalv kallar det en logn, men jag vet inte vad du kallar det.

    Ett bra exempel pa detta ar nar du pastod att fortal endast galler individer, nar vem som helst kan hitta informationen I lagen dar det star att grupper ocksa kan fortalas.

    Sa, jo, I mina ogon finns det inget tvivel; du har ljugit I dina kommentarer I forum.

    Kommentar av YesToPP — 28 september 2011 @ 11:56

  28. @urban/ntp

    ””You confuse the two which is not a sign of good mental health.”

    Ad hominem.”

    Denna kommentaren ar valdigt ironisk (aven om den tekniskt ar ratt) da man tittar pa foljande inlagg:

    ””And given that we have on this forum roughly a dozen instances of you verifiably lying, your claim of ”honesty” becomes rather pathetic.”

    Lying? No. So give us some examples then. Otherwise you are lying about my lying.”

    Detta ar ju ett klassiskt ad hominem tu quoque argument. lol

    Hort talas om att kasta sten i glashus Urban?

    Kommentar av YesToPP — 28 september 2011 @ 13:10

  29. @urban/ntp

    Actually the slander comment earlier was made by Sten, not you, my bad. The other comment in that blogg that I was also thinking about is the one where you state something is fact, both in the beginning and the end of comment, then claiming when confronted about it that it was not stated as fact. The fact that you accuse someone of being a ”pedophile-hugger” is also very close to slander if you didn’t know it. So, that comment contains both a slander situation and a lie situation.

    http://nejtillpirater.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/piratpartiet-har-tystnat-hoppas-pa-valet-2014-istallet/#comment-5098

    Kommentar av YesToPP — 29 september 2011 @ 6:43

  30. […] repeat the link to my earlier blog post Proposing a 10 Euro Per GB Cap On Data Roaming for your […]

    Pingback av Data Roaming: Dear Former State Monopolies, « Christian Engström, Pirate MEP — 22 november 2011 @ 18:13


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