EU ops must prepare for roaming MVNOs

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications [BEREC] has launched a public consultation on its latest set of regulation proposals, which – if implemented – will bring fundamental change to the structure of the European roaming market.
The regulation would require European mobile network operators (MNOs) to open their networks to providers of voice and data roaming services acting as MVNOs, starting in July 2014.
Based on past experience with roaming-regulation proposals, operators should expect the roaming market to change as of July 2014 in the ways described in the latest proposals.
Although the proposals lay the foundation for an intensifying of competition in the European roaming market, there is at present little appetite – if any – among telecoms and non-telecoms firms to enter the market as roaming MVNOs. Although this is likely to change as July 2014 nears – presuming the regulation in its current form comes into effect – European operators’ roaming revenues don’t look set to be eroded by new roaming MVNOs until 2015 at the earliest.
The main strategic choice operators face is whether to actively recruit roaming MVNOs for voice and/or data services, or simply comply with the bare-minimum requirements of the regulation. Operators have to decide if they see a benefit in extending their reach into other European markets by setting up their own roaming MVNOs.
Given the strong likelihood that the regulation will come into effect in its current form, operators should seriously consider whether their roaming interests will be best served by actively pursuing agreements with the companies that would most benefit from entering the European roaming market as MVNOs.
Paul Lambert is a senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media. For more information, visit: