Edited: It's interesting to see how comment which states facts, can get upvoted and downvoted this much. Sometimes voting in HN does not make any sense (to me). I understand that upvote is "thanks for letting us know those facts". What are downvotes representing? That I should not write at all, that price increase for all 3 telcos is fine, that everyone should be happy? Rhetorical question.
Since they showed up all other telcos in France had to adjust and offer around the same, around 25€ max instead of the usual 60€ to 80€ they'd offer before Free.
I also have a portable 4G hotspot with unlimited data (I've used around 50GB this month) for €4.90/mo, including rental of the device. It's limited at 6 Mbit but that's fine for my needs (you can pay more for up to 25 Mbit). However the main reason why it's so cheap is because it's from a smaller operator, so you only really get coverage in big cities and even then it can be patchy (like Three when they first launched in Europe).
Home internet is a different story though. I pay €9.90/mo for unlimited 100/100 FTTH, and I can get up to 1000/1000 for €19.90/mo - downloading a 6GB Steam game in under 10 minutes seems fast enough though. In 2015 home broadband coverage (>= 30 Mbit) was 99%, with 62% of subscribers on fibre .
They have several phone models to choose. You pay 1 EUR for most models from Samsung or Sony, a bit more for the deluxe editions (iphone and sorts). Now they even offer more because SMS are free and I still pay extra for each one, but doesn't matter because I simply use other messaging apps.
The Sony Xperia models are good, they're waterproof by default and resistant to shocks, albeit camera is crappy (compared to normal Samsung models)
Relative to the cost of living?
Virtual operators, who don't get any roaming income, still have to pay high roaming fees to other telcos and now can't even charge their expenses to customers are basically screwed and have to increase prices. Such a huge win.
There is also (AFAIK) some limits on this. I.e, you cannot get a contract in a cheap neighbouring country and use it all the time roaming from you home country. To unify all EU telco markets and increase competition between carriers might be a long term goal of the legislator, but as far as I can tell, right now it's only really applicable for travel.
There's no longer the hidden cost of being caught with a bill for 500kr after returning from a European holiday.
And who is going to buy a roaming package when you're gone for at most 24 hours? A week in Greece or Mallorca and it makes sense with something like that.
They made a lot of money with this roaming business.
(I think the 1st generation NMT network in Nordic countries also had the same, though I am not sure as I never owned one.)
Assuming the telco profits remained static (which may or may not be true) presumably someone was paying these costs before and if it wasn't Lithuanians then who was it?
But the grandparent post was someone from Latvia saying 'this is terrible our prices have gone up' which was followed by someone from France saying 'no this is great our prices have gone down'.
Someone's paying for it, and I doubt it's the Telcos who are losing out.
Parcels are next, so I hear.
Please resist commenting about being downvoted. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading.
Inflation in LT and LV is between 3% and 4% now, and salaries are also growing at about 5%.
Even in less competitive markets, raising the cost of providing a service will shift the supply curve, which can result in increased prices.
I downvoted you because you talked about your downvotes.
Write your comment and live with the results - don't interrupt the discussion to complain about your score.
* Free movement of persons
* Freedom to establish and provide services
The difficulty here is gauging how happy or unhappy people are. People who don't travel so much may feel unhappy at subsidizing those who do, but it's like insurance. If you have to travel unexpectedly, suddenly that inconvenience seems well worth it compared to the unpleasant experience of receiving a large bill for traveling. This is even more true if your travel is involuntary (visiting a sick relative instead of taking a holiday, for example).
There was similar short-term dissatisfaction in the US as landline carriers moved towards offering free long-distance calling within the USA some years ago. Some people objected that they shouldn't have to pay more for phone service since they rarely made calls outside their own town town/county. But the market as a whole preferred the simplicity of a one-size fits all plan, and arguably some of the savings in reduced billing complexity found their way back to consumers, as landline pricing gradually fell to an even lower equilibrium in the following years. This was before mobile telephony really took off. I don't have links offhand, but I do remember being pleased by my low monthly telephony bills.
It's a good idea to consider the second-order effects as well as the first-order effects.
So, they still can charge lots to those who, getting warned, don't immediately stop using their phone.
It is complicated because this is a political compromise. Everybody knows where the EU wants to end up (the frequent use of 'may' in that answer is a nice indicator), but that means shifting income of operators around (in general, operators in popular holiday countries lose a substantial source of income), so it can't happen in a Big Bang operation.
Anyway, for a typical one week vacation this is a good step forward.
You're paying for 300 minutes at home? When you're abroad and phoning to a EU number, you're using those 300 minutes. Before, you either had to get a special package, or pay roaming charges.
Here's a thought: the people in society with the lowest income have to pay for this just like everyone else, yet they are the ones least likely to benefit from it.
It is unfortunately a pattern that you'll find widespread in what the EU does. It benefits the the people with already higher income in the member countries way more than those with a low income. Sometimes it even makes the bottom of society subsidize those with higher incomes than they have - as is the case here.
in your case, you're the top comment thread on a front page article. it probably represents "I would like to see a different thread at the top", and you shouldn't take it personally, it might even be because they don't like the discussion happening as reply below your posts.
either that, or idiots. they hide in numbers.
I'm sure their lawyers made sure they could do it... sadly.
That's what happens when you let programmers try running a social site like this, especially when they have no real idea of social grace.
When I was doing an internship in Switzerland about 9 years ago I often travelled to nearby countries on weekends and internet access was always a problem. Free Wi-Fi was largely nonexistent back then, and roaming charges were upwards of USD15 per megabyte (yes, mega). Simply trying to use Google Maps to get to a hostel might cost more than the cost of staying at the hostel. And being on a prepaid plan, there was always the risk of accidentally clicking on an ad and burning up all of the quota that I purchased, leaving me stranded without internet access.
I relied mostly on printed paper maps that summer.
I always thought it made zero sense in a part of the world where crossing country borders could be an everyday occurrence especially if you live close to a border.
I also thought it made absolutely zero sense that the various Oranges and various T-Mobiles of different countries don't have free roaming plans with each other. Why didn't Orange UK, Orange France, Orange Switzerland, Orange Egypt, Orange Romania, etc. work together to give free calls and free internet access on each others' networks, routing everything over IP? They could have won over a bunch of business customers by doing that and killed some competitors.
Because they made boatloads of profit from charging their customers for roaming.
Also, if roaming charges are prohibitively expensive, people just stop using roaming. If they are at least reasonable, they will profit significantly more because people will actually use it. At $15/MB I just shut my phone off. They're not making any money from me.
They didn't need you. Their real customers back at the time were businessmen with next-to-unlimited travel funds.
These days it has changed because especially young people demand being able to Instagram/Snapchat their travels from anywhere... but still data in Germany is horribly expensive.
$30 is also among the lower prices you have to pay for a plan in Switzerland. But it's kind of hard to define, since there many variables (data speed, data cap, phone call prices, coverage, etc).
Most people I know are running on $60 to $100 plans.
I'm looking forward to when my company is paying my mobile bill.
Not sure whether Canada world like US or like Europe.
I can also note that this law has resulted in alot more unlimited plans. I myself have just gotten one which includes 30gb of roaming. Is it cheaper than before? Hell no. Do I have to care about how much I surf, when or where? Not anymore - and freedom is worth the extra €20.
I usually recommend people to buy only one mobile Internet connection. It doesn't make any sense for "normal users" to buy anything else. 100 or 300 Mbit/s mobile, that's it. Yet 300 Mbit/s mobile is pretty expensive, 29,90€/mo (including tax and fees).
You Americans get royally screwed. With all that money they will pay off Yahoo, the FCC, congress and still make a huge profit. They don't even have to invest much in networks, because there's hardly any competition. However they will invest in mobile Ad technology, to get even more money out of you.
I suspect part of the difference in price is due to geography - the US has vast, vast areas of unpopulated land that people still want to receive cell coverage in. Europe has less of that. It would be interesting to see the customer response to a new US network that I'd cheaper but only covers major metro areas.
So it's not that, or not just that at least.
Same as 'free' banking in the UK, which is in reality heavily cross-subsidised by the poorest customers paying overdraft penalties.
Now that EU regulation is in place mobile operators are no longer allowed to charge the additional cost to people actually using roaming, they have to spread it across all their customers. So, net effect will be: poor people who do not use roaming (e.g. because they cannot afford vacations abroad) will pay for the convenience of middle and higher class people who travel a lot.
I have still to see a reason in this thread that justifies the higher prices. If connections between different companies in a country work without significant cost, why is different between (european) countries? Damn, most of the time are the same company! It's price gouging and a racket.
There's an additional burden on their network, and they should be able to recoup some of that cost.
But almost every carrier I've seen would charge extortionate rates - hundreds or thousands of times the price they would charge their local customers for.
If they have no way to recoup the additional cost of all the incoming visitors, then they can't invest in expanding infrastructure.
It's probably a pretty limited scenario though.
Yesterday, that traffic typically was priced at euros per _mega_byte, starting at the first bit transferred; starting today that's at most €7.70 + VAT per _giga_byte, starting after you have used your (fairly generous) fair use allotment, going down to €2,50 per gigabyte in the coming years.
Naturally, countries who see many tourists heavily opposed this change and lobbied to keep the maximum price that the EU now has set high.
So roaming is actually not expensive anymore for them, and this latest regulation is the logical outcome, forcing the operators to pass their savings on to their customers.
Highly questionable. Concern for the poor that only appears in the context of government regulation often seems to be motivated more by dislike of regulation than worry about the lot of the poor.
Surely you have considered that one of the reasons poor people don't travel more is the predictable large roaming bill they may face upon their return. Once people are used to being in regular contact via cellphone, they don't wish to give that up for travel. Further, suggesting that vacations are the only reason people travel seems disingenuous. People are often motivated to travel in search of work, or to attend funerals, or other in- or semi-voluntary reasons besides leisure.
From the EU's perspective that was a problem, limiting 2 of 4 aspects in the single market's stated goal of free movement of goods, services, people and capital, namely services and people.
Services are still somewhat limited (you can't just buy the Latvian 15€/month service as a German in Germany, telcos made sure of that), but given the reliance of contemporary folks on connectivity, it helps somewhat on the "free movement of people" bit.
> net effect will be: poor people who do not use roaming (e.g. because they cannot afford vacations abroad)
There's a contingent in European's poor (from Eastern Europe) that works abroad (Western Europe) and benefits from not having to deal with roaming anymore.
(also, from my experience from when I was poor, it can be ridiculously cheap to have a few days of international vacation within the EU)
 poor being relative, but I think most official metrics would have covered me.
You'd have to be fairly destitute to not be able to afford to travel within Europe. For example, even people on social welfare in the UK and Ireland can afford cheap sun holidays to Spain or wherever.
Not to mention Latvia or Bulgaria.
In Greece for example, we have 3 mobile operators and they announce exactly the same changes to their plans within a couple weeks difference. Things like “we increase our basic plan by 5 euros” or “you have to top up your prepaid phone at least once every 3 months instead of 12”. This way, there is no point at switching.
Especially roaming was a golden goose until few years ago, because each telco charged termination fees for roaming subscribers. So your telco was like “I can't do much, I have to pay the foreign telco”. What happened in EU, is that by law these termination fees started getting smaller until today where they become zero.
EU's roaming regulation is the latest example: 3 operators announced tariffs that pretended to make roaming free, but have multiple strings attached. But the fourth one, Orange, announced offer without any fine print, just equating roaming prices with domestic ones, thus forcing other three to do the same.
If I recall correctly there wasn't a single price raise in Poland in the last 15 years.
There are commodity markets with many producers, many consumers and product uniformity. These can be modeled very effectively using economic theories. Barley, pork bellies, silver.
There are more “normal” markets with many (or at least enough) producers & consumers and nonuniform products with sufficient substitution options. Supermarkets, building supplies, spoons, shoes… These tend to be efficient and broadly explainable via economic theories.
Some markets are highly regulated. Some markets are oligopolistic or have an monopolistic component in the “value chain” (e.g. last mile infrastructure). Some are highly financialized (e.g. health insurance markets) or have weird standardisation/compatibility issues. Some have high fixed/marginal cost structures. Lock-in, licensing issues, externalities, inflexible supply side (e.g. housing), property rights aggregation issues (e.g. regional US radio bands), bundling…
The ability of a market to be dynamic, efficient, innovative and all the other emergent properties of a free market is limited by all these things.
Telcom markets have a lot of these issues. That’s why highly interventionist policies have performed well relative to more “free” market setups.
Many producers: maybe not, but most countries have at least 3 . Not worse than e.g. major grocery store chains or gas stations.
Many consumers: definitely
Product uniformity: significant--I don't care how my 1 mb of data or 1 min of talk is routed
The key anti-free market characteristic is arguably the limited amount of frequency spectrum, which is allocated via centralized auctions. Yet I don't recall hearing similar complaints about the radio or TV industries in Europe.
A lot of the arguments in this thread are that the market is inefficient and therefore must be regulated, but is this the right path if the inefficiencies are due to regulation in the first place?
Which telcom markets are you thinking about? The ones I'm familiar with are all fairly interventionist.
Back when I took few economy courses, we went over numerous real world examples on how big companies price fix. Sometimes you can have eight players and they'll still agree to fix prices.
This wasn't dry theory, this was golf meeting to raise prices by 50% , fishing trips where pieces of papers were exchanged and nobody fished etc.
From this, if the government is non corrupt, it's far better for the people that government step in and regulate than leave it to the market with a handful of players.
An example of this is when all the operators changed the billing cycle from one month to 28 days, adding another monthly fee in practice: even if only one operator started doing that (with outrage from the customers), now everyone does that, with the except of landlines where the regulator stepped in.
As other have pointed out the population density works against us a little too. Having service when I visit remote places is worth a lot too.
You won't have reception everywhere in Montana but just covering major highways and the interstate system in the US adds a lot of network costs. The barriers to enter are huge whereas you can easily provide coverage for a large part of the population in some EU countries.
Are rural areas in Sweden dominated by small, fairly dense towns? In America, even small cities are sprawling because of cars. People will live 10 miles outside of a small town of 3000 people.
It's also why phone services are so much more expensive in the US than say France.
Maybe you do, but most people don't. People aren't price sensitive to every element equally. I recall the first time I used roaming. I was in Heidelberg, Germany, using a UK-issued SIM. The cost per minute for me to make a call to a local number was over 1 USD per minute, billed in minute increments (i.e. a 10 second call would be billed as a minute).
If I had known that before I left, would that have been enough for me to research other carriers' roaming costs and switch? Probably not.
Mobile roaming is for most people a rare event.
The average user has little idea about how much data they're actually using.
These combine to make it impossible for the average user to buy the best plan for them.
 Some people live near borders, and those people got hammered by mobile roaming charges because their phones connected to towers across the border. So they got charged for roaming even when they weren't.
- business travelers (someone else's money)
- high income people (will still roaming even if it's expensive)
And it had a loophole for frugal people (prepaid local SIM)
so they could still tolerate the situation.
Finally, operators didn't decide the roaming costs for their customers - they could only decide what they will charge the other country's operator. So there was no direct way to lower their own roaming costs short of formin a "reverse cartel" of lowering prices.
Under these circumstances, mandated cooperation would make sense to me.
Now the question is, how many consumers knew roaming prices (for places which they would travel to) when they had the opportunity to compare companies and made the decision to enter into contract with a phone company. If the answer is almost everyone then regulation is completely unnecessary. If the answer is almost no one then competition is basically impossible and the consumer just have to hope that the contract they signed several years ago was a good one and not a exploitive one. Regulations in that case reduces risk to the consumer.
Whether the market is currently competitive or not, this move will result in less competition as there is more price fixing and less room for operators to differentiate their offerings.
It's the same with ISPs and banks, etc.
No other plan offered such comprehensive roaming at the time, so I had a mate fly a SIM over from the UK for me when I arrived in Germany.
This change will be a huge boon for travellers especially. I can see how for some cheap telcos it could cause harm though.
Since it covers the EU and many other non EU countries (USA included for instance) I think it'll stay this way.
The frequent travellers (presumably wealthier) get subsidized by the infrequent travellers (presumably less wealthier).
This was never supposed to save money, it was to bring the EU closer together and make borders disappear further.
Business travelers had fees paid by their employer anyway, not that much changed for them.
so yes receiving calls or using internet will be same as home, you still have to watch what number you are calling, if it's from country of your carrier or different
please correct me if I am wrong
EDIT: so I was right, now it's even more insane than before:
For example: If you have a Belgian card and you travel to France and call either a hotel in France, back home to Belgium, or to any other country in the EU and the EEA, you are roaming (refer to legal text on the regulation on roaming) , and you will pay Belgian internal domestic prices (refer to legal text).
However, if a Belgian SIM card holder calls from Belgium to Spain, she/he will pay the international tariff. Calls from home to another EU country are not roaming and are not regulated.
TLDR: there are no fees for international calls while you are in roaming, but when you return back home enjoy fees for international calls, using your SIM in foreign network is cheaper than using it in your own network at home
So a 'normal' person going on vacation, traveling for work, visiting a city just across the border will have fee-less roaming.
But you can't go to Romania, buy a SIM and use it here indefinitely.
You can also order them online for delivery to a specified address, they don't seem to check whether it is your home address but mine is paid using a French bank account which may help.
Regular subscriptions not, that's relevant for invoicing (as you can buy things through these subscriptions, it is pretty much like getting a credit card, hence asking for photo ID is entirely reasonable.)
No ID checks at either. Felt nice.
My current operator is Virgin, and that didn't require ID etiher, although since I already had a home internet account with them, that may have been why (no idea if new customers need ID). I did not need ID to setup the original home broadband account though. They obviously have my address and billing details, but they never had any proof that I'm who I saw I am. My previous phone provider was Three Ireland and they didn't require any ID either.
All of these except my Virgin SIM are/were prepaid. It seems that prepaids don't always require ID (and having postpaid/bill phones require ID does make sense).
In Germany you can buy SIM cards on the local supermarket, no ID requested.
They even requested your ID for SIMs you already owned and eventually disconnected all the unidentified.
To take three UK for example:
Calling Spain from the UK: 46p/min
Calling Spain from France while roaming: inclusive in minutes allowance, otherwise 3p/min.
It's a bit of a joke really. I don't know why the EU didn't think of this.
Technically it isn't roaming and the telcos happily charge you premium as it does not fall under that regulation.
Many people will be confused by this bit.
It's not within their power to regulate these charges.
While this agreement is definitely a step in the right direction, a few exceptions like this might actually increase phone bills for a number of people who were previously on special EU plans with their provider, some of which are now being phased out. A couple of parties are calling for the EU parliament to address these issues, but I don't think it will be changed any time soon.
Surely some more central regulations will remedy the situation! "To each according to his needs." What could possibly go wrong?
Pray, Mr. Babbage, what is the "true value" of roaming?
How much profit shall we decree suitable, for private corporations? And why stop at telcos?
So if you want to use your phone in a different country during the holidays, you'll need an EU roaming subscription.
The politicians once again failed to be sufficient precise in formulating a law that would produce the decided result. They should have added a clause that state that all subscriptions are to cover the entire EU.
Why is it so damn hard to be happy about a giant step forward, just because it doesn't happen in the most perfect way? (what does?!).
It's basically the world's toughest market for mobile telephony.
Telenor and Telia wanted to merge in Denmark last year, but wasn't allowed to, because it would hurt customers, so the free market isn't really in play anymore.
What are "the telcos"? I just got an SMS from Vodafone announcing that from now on, I won't pay roaming fees in EU countries.
So it remains possible that a company will try it at some point but it will likely be very rare.
(I can't get fiber without paying five digits sums of €, and ADSL is around 3 Mbit/s).
So, if prices rise due to roaming charges, I'm paying more and get nothing.
Every existing or new contract that includes roaming services will change to "roam like at home" contract.
That does seem to exclude contracts that don't include roaming services.
The CBB contract for example is adding 40DKK to the price, for EU coverage.
It seems this option is now gone, however instead I now have separate data limits between Denmark and EU, with the latter being substantially less (only 5 GB, "calculated based on your subscription").
When I'm a bit less stressed I think I'll start shopping around for another operator :^)
Apparently there's a complex "fair usage" formula that is allegedly EU mandated:
> EU Data = (abonnementspris x 2) / EU-defineret GB pris
I didn't bother to compare the prices too long but I think they cut them down just a bit.
How does it feel to crosspay my phone bill? ;)
As long as something which was previously part of the profit is cut out, costs will be realigned. This effect is independent from the label used to justify this previous profit.
If it does not end up like this, the companies allocation mechanisms were not working as expected in the first place.