According to Anna Strezynska, Poland’s Minister of Digitization, implementing the roam-like-at-home regulation, in keeping with European Commission regulations taking effect this month, will bring difficulties in Poland. The large proportion of plans that include discount prices and generous service allotments will cause mobile operators to lose money, Strezynska said in a media interview.
Referring to Orange Poland, which has already implemented the roam-like-at-home principle consistently, she suggested that the operator, being part of a large international telecommunications group, has the option of cross-subsidizing roaming services. However, its competitors, P4 and Polkomtel, as well as at least two networks operating only on the national market, have no such capability
Strezynska also said that a relatively small group of users in Poland benefits from roaming services, while the majority will end up subsidizing these services in order to meet the European Commission’s requirements. This cannot be allowed, said Strezynska and continued: “For many years, we have been fighting for low prices in Poland,” she said, adding that she will be having talks with the European Commission to seek a solution to the roaming issue.
The long-heralded end to roaming surcharges in the EU, which is set to begin this month, clearly will be experienced differently in different member states. Widely touted by EC officials as an unmitigated boon to consumers, roam-like-at-home will definitely not be a gift to operators, and the impacts will obviously differ depending on the nature of the national market in question.
A report from Ernst & Young Poland has presented the findings on the effects that implementing the roam-like-at-home principle would have in the country. The firm estimates that the disparity between roaming and domestic rates will cost the average Polish operator around PLN 180 million (US $21.5 million) in revenues through limited consumption and around PLN 55 million (US $14.8 million) in EBITDA because of higher costs. According to EC data, the differences in wholesale rates, combined with the roaming use profile of the typical Polish subscriber, mean that Polish mobile networks will record losses from roam-like-at-home.
Despite all this, the time for arguing and negotiating with the EC is likely over. Polish operators—as well as operators in other markets, no doubt—will simply need to come up with creative pricing strategies to offset these losses.
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