January 31, 2020 is now known as the official day of Brexit. After almost four years of uncertainty, Great Britain is now ready to separate from the EU and both sides have only 11 months to prepare for the transition. The number of ways in which both UK and EU businesses will be affected is too large to count. While most of the aspects were widely discussed by the media, communications were mainly left on the side bench. Let’s learn how businesses will be affected by roaming after Brexit and what are the ways to avoid it (or maybe to get even better off).
It used to be so easy
For a couple of years, communications have not been an issue for EU citizens. In 2017 Roaming Regulations were introduced and all the troubles seemed to go away. Regardless of the origin country of the number, you could now call all EU destinations and send messages using local rates and use mobile data anywhere in the EU as if you were at home. At first glance, the so-called Eurotariff did not just free the general public and enable traveling, it has facilitated business between countries in a number of ways, one of them being easy communication.
But like everything in life and telecom, it is not as easy as it seems. The arrangement known as Calling Party Pays (CPP) is the most common European model for call payments between different mobile networks. It places the call charge exclusively on the calling party while the call recipient is paying nothing. Although on the surface the CPP model may look more attractive to the user, a closer examination shows it might not be such a great deal after all.
Roaming Regulations did not stop profit-seeking providers from figuring out more innovative ways to increase gross margin. If no money is coming from the EU, it does not restrain them from earning a bit more on calls coming from outside the union. Not to point fingers, but some especially passionate European providers started charging up to €0.5 per minute for calls coming from outside the EU - sounds quite greedy.
What Brexit brings us
First of all, now that the United Kingdom is no longer in the EU, local providers are not obliged to offer roaming-free services. Lack of regulations and conditions in which providers need to collaborate create a perfect environment for an oligopoly to blossom. Everyone is familiar with the Big 4 of the UK: Vodafone, O2, Three and EE. And while these companies’ representatives have mentioned that they are not looking to bring roaming back just yet, nothing is preventing them after January 1, 2021; so roaming charges after Brexit are still a mystery.
In addition, smaller providers have not really expressed their intentions just yet. These firms do not have a large representation in the EU countries or millions of clients, so they have no leverage to make deal with each country. And just as when the Eurotariff was introduced, there is no way to make sure that in an attempt to survive they will not come up with additional costs for calls coming in.
Potential repercussions for deals between providers and increased costs will lie on the public’s shoulders, however, they will be largely shared by businesses on both sides.
How businesses and roaming are even connected
Voice communication stays one of the most popular means of connection between businesses and their consumers. With no barriers for communication, companies all over Europe have seen an increased number of international clients and partners. It is psychologically easier to trust someone with your money if you can always get a hold of them over the phone just as you would your local business.
Once the barriers are reintroduced (such as Brexit roaming), most companies will basically become local again. It is unclear yet, how to figure out the most affordable way to call numbers in the EU, a way that has no hidden costs. Unfortunately, with the economy of choice, it does not take much to drive a potential customer away. Sometimes not having an easily reachable phone number will do it.
But it is not that bad
An alternative way to guarantee easy access to customers from all over the world is by using their local numbers. While it sounds unobtainable, you can connect numbers from 100 countries around the world within a few minutes with Zadarma. Having a local number shown for every website visitor regardless of their origin adds trust and reputation to the brand, makes it seem more reliable and trustworthy.
On top of that, call prices are more than affordable, calls to France, Germany, and other EU destinations cost as low as £0.007 per minute and incoming calls are free when accepted via the internet, there are no hidden charges. Brexit has brought a lot of uncertainty to both people and businesses, however, the return of roaming does not look too threatening when you know there is a simple and affordable alternative.