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Transforming the roaming market?

A roaming customer buys the service from his/her service provider, the one who controls the number. The service provider purchases roaming and billing services from a foreign operator in order to provide the service to the customer. Today, the most that a customer who wants to be reachable (who wants to receive calls while abroad) can do is register on networks of operators in foreign countries who offer lower prices to his/her provider. If there is a possibility of competition here, it’s a faint one.

What the EU appears to be doing is to allow a customer to buy roaming services in the home country from a service provider other than the regular carrier. Unless this includes being able to keep the number and thus receive calls, the proposed solution does not seem very attractive. Just carrying a second phone (or a second SIM in a dual SIM handset) will give lower prices on the second phone, while also preserving the ability to receive calls/SMS/email on the main phone.

As part of the agreement, European Union consumers will be able to buy roaming service from any operator, not just their regular carrier, starting July 1, 2014. European operators will be required to sell wholesale access to their networks to competitors and virtual operators — who do not operate networks but buy and sell access to them — that wish to sell roaming services.

“By summer 2014, people can shop around for the best deal,” Ms. Kroes said.

If this is the best the EU can come up with, we might as well stay with our jughaad solutions.

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