The Steering Council of the Electronic and Postal Communications Authority (AKEP) on Wednesday approved the latest regulation related to the final abolition of roaming tariffs in the Western Balkan countries.
Regulation “On the Implementation of the Fair Use Policy and the Methodology of Assessing the Sustainability of Retail Roaming Tariff Removal with the Western Balkans. Provides fair use policies to avoid abusive or abnormal use of roaming services after 1 July 2021.
Starting next month, the obligation to abolish all roaming tariffs between the Western Balkan countries enters into force. Mobile users of Albania, Kosovo, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina will be able to use the roaming service in the region with the same tariffs as in their own country. This process started in mid-2019, with the escalating reduction of roaming tariffs, until their complete abolition, on July 1, 2021.
AKEP regulation stipulates that mobile operators must provide regulated retail roaming services, at appropriate prices within the country for their subscribers, who are usually resident in Albania, at the time they travel to the Western Balkans.
For the purposes of a fair use policy, the roaming provider has the right to require its roaming subscribers to provide evidence of normal residence or residence in Albania, or of other stable connections with Albania, which results in a frequent presence. in the territory of Albania. These rules aim to avoid the use of roaming through Albanian operators by individuals who are not residents in Albania.
AKEP regulation also defines the evaluation methodology in cases when mobile operators may request the application of an additional roaming tariff. Although roaming tariffs in the Western Balkans will be abolished from July, the regulation leaves room for operators to request additional tariffs in cases where they are unable to cover costs, which impairs the sustainability of tariffs. services within the country.
AKEP may accept the imposition of an additional roaming fee only in cases where the absolute value of the negative net retail roaming margin of the applicant is equal to or greater than 3% of the value of its mobile service margin. Simply put, additional charges may be imposed in the event that roaming losses exceed 3% of profits from the mobile operator’s mobile services.
However, even when such a difference is proven, AKEP may reject the application for an additional roaming fee. This can happen when the operator is part of a business group and has evidence of internal price transfer in favor of other group subsidiaries within the Western Balkans, especially in view of the significant imbalances of wholesale tariffs applied within the group. .
Also, the request for additional tariffs will be rejected when the degree of competition in the domestic market creates space to cope with reduced margins, or when the implementation of a more restrictive fair use policy would reduce the net retail margin in roaming in less than 3%.
Also, in exceptional circumstances, when an operator has a negative margin of mobile services and a negative net margin of retail roaming, AKEP will authorize the application of an additional tariff for regulated roaming services.