The UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has today ruled that mobile operator Lycamobile broken the rules by applying surcharges for EU roaming (these were often higher than the maximum permitted) and applying fair use data (mobile broadband) roaming limits that were lower than the minimum permitted.
Since June 2017 all Mobile Network Operators (MNO) in the United Kingdom have been subject to the new EU roaming regulation (“Roam Like At Home“). In simple terms this means that anybody choosing to use their Mobile (SIM) to make calls, text or use data while roaming around the EU should be able to do so for the same price as they pay their UK operator (i.e. no extra roaming charges), although there are some caveats for data usage beyond a certain level.
However Ofcom’s investigation found that Lycamobile had not properly respected this rule and as a result the regulator are today forcing them to make changes in order to become compliant, as well as to refund any customers who ended up using additional pay-as-you-go credit as a result of it not complying with the regulations.
Ofcom found that Lycamobile contravened:
* Article 6a of the Roaming Regulation by levying a surcharge and/or general charge in addition to the domestic retail price for regulated roaming services to enable the service to be used abroad;
Between 15 June 2017 and 27 August 2017, customers that purchased a pre-paid bundle had to use or purchase separate pay as you go (PAYG) credit in order to be able to roam within the EEA, rather than being able to use their bundle allowance on a ‘roam like at home’ (RLAH) basis; and
From 28 August 2017 to January 2019, customers that purchased a non-roaming inclusive pre-paid bundle were able to roam within the EEA either using PAYG credit or by additionally purchasing a roaming inclusive pre-paid bundle.
* Article 6b of the Roaming Regulation and Article 4 of the CIR by applying data roaming limits that were lower than the minimum levels permitted by the regulations; and
* Articles 6b and 6e of the Roaming Regulation by applying surcharges for regulated data roaming services that were higher than the maximum surcharge permitted by the regulations. Specifically, Lycamobile’s charging policy for customers that roamed after reaching their data roaming limit and before reaching their domestic data allowance, exceeded the limits set in Article 6e(1)(a).
The regulator has now given the operator 3 months and 1 week to make the necessary changes and issue appropriate refunds. Lycamobile will also be expected to provide figures for the total number of customers refunded and the total amount refunded.