A fair payment. As mobile operators abolish roaming charges

ECONOMY

The Federal Antimonopoly service (FAS) in summer 2017 demanded cell phone companies to eliminate unreasonable differences in the tariffs for subscribers using communication not in “his” region.

Now mobile operators “big three” — “Vympelcom” (brand “Beeline”), MegaFon and MTS, said the abolition of fees for incoming calls in national roaming.

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What is roaming?

Roaming (from the English. roam — to wander, to wander) is a procedure for the provision of services outside the service area of a home network of the subscriber by using the resource of another (the guest) network.

In Russia there are in-network, national roaming and separately in the Crimea.

In-network is called roaming, which occurs when you move a subscriber between different regions, but in the network of one operator.

National acts when a network provider is not in a region, and “own” the operator has to pay other companies for using their networks. That is, the subscriber moves between regions and between operators.

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Why FAS has demanded to abolish roaming charges?

The FAS were interested in the tariffs for intranet roaming in 2016. Then the head of Department Igor Artemyev said that roaming in Russia should not be.

Deputy head of FAS Anatoly Golomolzin has explained that “subscribers who are in roaming in Russia, don’t have to pay for incoming calls”. This will allow to create a uniform telecommunication space and respect the rights of all subscribers in the country.

17 July 2017, the FAS issued a warning to “the big four” mobile operators — Beeline, MTS, MegaFon, Tele2 — on-net roaming and demanded to change rates within 14 days. They also for ten days had to notify subscribers about changes.

Later the term was repeatedly extended.

The head of the Department for the regulation of communications and information technologies of the FAS Elena zaeva explained that we are talking about the abolition of intra-network roaming.

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What FAS has accused mobile operators?

Anti-monopoly service accused the company of violations of the law on protection of competition, which resulted in the establishment and maintenance of different tariffs for mobile services in “home” region and travel to Russia.

It turned out that the more expensive tariff plan of the subscriber, the less a subscriber for the difference in tariffs for mobile services and home visits.

After the analysis of price offers and conditions for the provision of services, FAS has decided that these actions are neither economically nor technologically justified.

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What did the FAS and operators for the removal of intranet roaming?

Cell company of the requirement of the FAS about elimination of unjustified difference of roaming tariffs in two weeks is not fulfilled. But expressed willingness to fulfill them and asked for more time.

The Agency repeatedly extended the deadline alert: first until December 15, 2017, until January 31, 2018. Upon expiration of the FAS received reports of what was done instructions.

When studying the information received, the Agency found violations. And as a result, in March 2018, the FAS initiated proceedings against operators “the big three”. For consideration, the authority has until 28 December 2018. But the decision may be taken earlier.

In the spring, the operators have revised the terms of communication in travel to Russia. So calls to the region began to be local, and calls to other regions, including the home paid for as long distance. Included in the seat of was free, if the call was from a local number. And incoming from other regions is also billed as long distance.

Now operators have announced that in a short time to cancel the fee for incoming travel in the country.

FAS has already supported the company’s decision, and promised to take it into account when considering cases on violation of Antimonopoly legislation on 8 August.

As for Tele2, at the end of 2017, FAS extended the deadline alerts to the operator until 31 may 2018. And in the summer of 2018, the Agency again changed the deadline for the company until August 31 of this year.

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Why FAS are not satisfied with the tariffs for national roaming?

The requirement of removal of intranet roaming was not the only problem in the relationship of mobile operators and FAS. The authorities also indicted the operators claim national roaming.

So, on March 30, 2017, the FAS launched an investigation into the settlements of the “big four” mobile operators when they provide services in the national roaming.

FAS has demanded to lower tariffs for national roaming to economically justified. For this, the company “MegaFon”, MTS, Beeline, Tele2 had to change the system of inter-operator settlements. Each of the operators was to send each other the offer on reduction of tariffs for services in settlements.

The company’s request, the FAS did not obey, and on August 3, 2017, the service opened a case against them.

FAS found that the companies maintain high monopoly prices for communication services in national roaming and at the conclusion of the national inter-operator roaming agreements in Russia.

Later the case was terminated because the operators have voluntarily eliminated the violations.

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Cancel whether national roaming completely?

The authorities have such plans.

In July 2018, the state Duma adopted in the first reading the draft law on the elimination of national roaming in Russia.

Deputies from “Fair Russia”, headed by faction leader Sergei Mironov, who made the initiative in June 2017, I believe a national roaming to date redundant.

The head of the profile Committee of the state Duma on information policy, information technologies and communications Leonid Levin hopes that the bill can be accepted already in autumn session.

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Why mobile operators do not want to cancel the roaming charges?

Most importantly, they didn’t want to lose money. According to the initial estimates of the General Director “TMT Consulting” Konstantin Ankilova, cellular operators may lose because of the abolition of roaming in Russia within the network of about 30 billion rubles.

“VimpelCom” also said that the strong reduction of prices for roaming in Russia can have an impact on direct revenue. However, the operator expects that the improving conditions of roaming “will stimulate the growth of consumption,” and after some time the profitability of services will be restored.

Also, the operator is said about the technical difficulties of the abolition of roaming charges.

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Grow rates?

Previously, experts predicted that, to compensate for falling revenues, operators can increase the average level of tariffs.

But the authorities promised to prevent unreasonable increase of tariffs of operators after the removal of intranet roaming.

According to MP Leonid Levin, fears that with the abolition of roaming operators will raise prices for telecommunications services, do not have significant economic justification, as “the fierce competition for subscribers is forcing cellular companies to maintain low prices for their services.”

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When the operators will cancel the charge for incoming calls in roaming?

Mobile operators called different dates of the abolition of fees for incoming calls in national romige.

So, “Beeline” plans to make all calls outside the “home” region for subscribers free since August 20, 2018. Tariff and billing system customers are not going to matter.

“MegaFon” will cancel the fee for incoming calls in Russia in two phases: for the number of subscribers from 1 September, for all the rest — from mid-September.

In MTS said that the operator “in the near future also abolishes payment for incoming traveling around the country,” but did not specify a specific date.

Tele2 expects to fulfill all requirements of the FAS in time — until the end of August. The company said that on-net roaming on most of the tariffs of the operator has been canceled.

Maria Selivanova, Ruxin Arina

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