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Insight

Roaming tariffs - consumers confused by too much choice

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) has released its report on the transparency and comparability of international roaming tariffs.In accordance with Article 19(4) of The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) has released its report on the transparency and comparability of international roaming tariffs.

In accordance with Article 19(4) of the Roaming Regulations each year BEREC publishes information on transparency and comparability of different tariffs offered by operators to their customers. The report is based on responses to a questionnaire sent to national regulatory authorities (NRAs) and mobile service providers.

BEREC's report found that customers are mostly well informed, do not face major problems regarding the transparency of roaming tariffs and are supplied with necessary information about switching. BEREC considers that the minority of operators who do not supply information about charges which are not included in bundles, such as where tariffs are limited in time, should be addressed.

Consumers' access to real time information could also be improved. BEREC has suggested offering such information via applications for smartphones and tablets and it also encouraged operators to highlight existing tools via dedicated roaming web-pages.

The report noted that there are a large and differing number of roaming tariffs available. Whilst BEREC welcomed the diversity of such tariffs, it considered that the range of choices made it a difficult task for consumers to compare options and make informed decisions. This is an area that BEREC will continue to assess going forward.

It was also found that generally consumers do not have simple access to features or tables which summarise the features of roaming tariffs – this is something BEREC encouraged operators to publish and keep up to date.

BEREC found that in order for customers to choose the most suitable tariff they must first understand their own needs and behaviours regarding likely roaming consumption. This is a difficult task for most consumers. It was also found that NRAs do not provide tools to assist customers in estimating their consumption and BEREC encouraged the provision of such tools to customers to facilitate informed choices in the selection of appropriate roaming tariffs.

BEREC will repeat this exercise each year to "assess the evolution and advances in increasing the transparency and comparability of tariffs".

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