Austrian users stopped switching-off roaming when abroad after the implementation of the roam-like-at-home (RLAH) regulation in mid-June 2017, according to an analysis from regulator RTR, monitoring the period until 30 September 2017, namely including the roaming high season during the summer holidays.
Before the RLAH regulation, Austrians watched their roaming data consumption carefully in order to prevent high bills; after the RLAH was introduced, data consumption increased significantly. Data consumption leaped 388 percent to 1.90 million GB in the third quarter of 2017, from 407,990 GB the year before.
The trend of growing consumption in the EU roaming was also observed in voice telephony. In the year to Q3 2017, the number of active roaming minutes (outgoing calls) increased from 88 million to 139.5 million minutes, or by 58 percent. The number of passive minutes (incoming calls) increased from 66.5 to 79.3 million minutes, or by 19 percent.
Roaming SMS consumption, in contrast, decreased year-on-year by 5 percent, probably due to replacement by data-based messenger services, going from 31 million to 29.6 million.
The RLAH implementation has strongly affected MVNOs, who traditionally address price-sensitive customers, who more often switched-off data roaming. The increase in the MVNO segment was huge: 2,451 percent. Comparing an average customer’s consumption, and taking into account the stronger percentage growth in customer bases of MVNOs, the average consumption growth at MVNOs was more than a three-times the average consumption growth at MNOs. The reason is that MNOs, in contrast, do not have such price-sensitive customers and the year-on-year growth in roaming consumption was only 363 percent. The differences in both types of operators, MVNOs and MNOs, is apparent also in case of calls and messages.
One of the effects of the new roaming regulations was a 97 percent decline in revenues of mobile operators from roaming services, from nearly EUR 10 million to EUR 260,000 in Q3 2017. The lower roaming revenues from end-users, however, has been far offset by the revenues stemming from payments by foreign operators for usage of MNO’s networks. MVNOs are disadvantaged in this regard, as they do not have their own networks, so they only record losses from roaming revenues from end-users, but no income from other operators for network usage.