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Cancellation of domestic roaming in Russia: what consequences will be?

Cancellation of domestic roaming in Russia: no more fees for calls between regions

The State Duma of the Russian Federation adopted a legislative act, which implies the abolition of internal roaming in Russia. The law will take effect from June 1, 2019. Probably, in the future this step will be taken for customers of domestic operators in Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The changes suggest amendments to Art. 53 FZ № 126-FZ “On Communications”, which began to operate since 2003. It marks the fee for calls that are made by the subscriber of the same mobile operator in Russia. At the same time, a connection with a user who is not in the Russian Federation still has to pay.

What was the struggle for the abolition of domestic roaming?

Back in 2017, people’s deputies from “Fair Russia” suggested putting an end to Russian domestic roaming. Sergei Mironov noted that the abolition of “borders” for subscribers located in different regions is a long-standing measure that will greatly simplify the use of cellular communication and make tariff plans more understandable, regardless of the location of the user. Russians who have come to another subject are not required to pay more or purchase new SIM cards to make cheap calls within the region. Given the scale of the country, the abolition of domestic Russian roaming will allow to communicate really without borders, with relatives, partners and friends living in different parts of Russia.

The presence of different tariffs for calls to different regions was at odds with the antitrust principles of the market, with which the FAS began to fight a couple of years ago. For example, in 2017, the ministry identified a failure to comply with the Law on the Protection of Competition in the work of communication providers, and punished them for different tariff plans in the home region and beyond. After examining the issue, the FAS considered that there is no need to charge subscribers an additional fee for using mobile communications within the country, regardless of the region. Members of the “Big Four” were forced to develop tariff proposals without paid roaming in the regions of the Russian Federation by August 2017.

By this date, the organizations failed, and the FAS opened several cases for high prices for internal roaming. Further, the agency chose deadlines for the refusal of additional fees for internal roaming. MTS, Megafon and VimpelCom should have removed the charge for calls to other regions before January 31, 2018, and Tele2 – until May 31. But the providers could not implement the FAS resolution – the clients themselves spoke about this. Companies began to introduce hidden surcharges, connected unnecessary services, etc.

From June 1, 2019, users of all mobile operators who work in Russia will enjoy home tariffs, regardless of where they are now. Operators warn that they will not be able to fulfill this requirement without raising tariffs, but the FAS considers this to be groundless. Thus, already since the summer of 2019, pleasant changes are waiting for us all, which greatly facilitate business and private trips around Russia.

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