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Telecom - Stealing candy from a baby

Telecom - Stealing candy from a baby

10.7.2013 10:40

Roaming fees for making calls, sending text or downloading data while abroad must end by 2015, said the European Parliament’s Industry Committee on Tuesday. Besides labelling them as “excessive costs”, the Industry Committee suspects roaming fees to be hampering growth and prosperity.

Neelie Kroes backed unanimously:
“This unanimous vote for a roaming-free Europe by 2015 is a signal that the European Parliament fully supports European Commissioner Kroes' drive to get rid of roaming”, said Jens Rohde on behalf of the the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.

India and the United States as examples:
According to the motion for resolution, India and the US have already abolished roaming fees. The Committee calls for a comprehensive set of concrete measures to be presented by the Commission and approved before the end of this Parliament that would address the problem of market fragmentation in the telecoms sector.

Roaming represent on average 10% of EU operators’ revenue base:
Roaming revenue accounts for approximately 10% of EU operators' revenues and BEREC calculates that on average, industry and consumers often pay 4x the price that operators have to pay in the wholesale market for roaming calls. For Mobistar, roaming revenues represent approximately 9% of mobile turnover or ~€ 130m. Although not disclosed by Mobistar, we believe roaming EBITDA is of the same order of magnitude, as these activities carry a very high margin. Belgacom (17,02 EUR, -0,61%) does not disclose how much roaming represents in revenue or EBITDA, but we believe it must also be quite substantial as it estimates the regulatory impact of the 2013 roaming cuts (please refer to our Morning Note contribution of 1 July 2013) at ~€ 48m for both revenue and EBITDA. Crucial question is also how much MNOs pay and receive in roaming (i.e. roaming is a cost but also a source of revenue).

Resolution voted before EP elections of May 2014?
The Industry Committee resolution will be put to a plenary vote at the European Parliament's 9-12 September session and will be part of Parliament's input to the October summit. This is in line with Neelie Kroes’ push to have a resolution voted before theEuropean Parliament elections slated for 22-25 May. This roaming regulation could then be put to work as early as 2015.
Conclusion: As details on the axing of roaming rates have been unfolding over the last couple of weeks, it is straightforward to label this as a very serious regulatory overhang for European telcos. We intend to watch this issue closely and stress that it is negative for the investment cases of both Belgacom and Mobistar. It remains unclear how the new regulation would impact the current roaming cap glidepath and the upcoming decoupling of roaming services (scheduled for July 2014).

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