EU bans mobile roaming fees
Mobile users will not be charged extra for using their phones abroad while travelling within the EU from June 2017.
The European Parliament yesterday gave final approval to a new law which bans roaming fees for making calls, sending text messages and using data abroad in the EU.
From 30 April 2016, roaming charges will be capped at €0.05 per minute for outgoing voice calls, €0.02 for texts and €0.05 per MB of data.
A cap on charges for incoming voice calls will be determined later this year but is expected to be considerably lower than for outgoing calls.
The fees will be banned altogether from 15 June 2017.
The move follows a deal between the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament, with the final green light given yesterday.
The commission has previously said the restrictions will make roaming 75% cheaper than current roaming caps for calls and data.
Spanish MEP Pilar del Castillo said: “This abolition of roaming surcharges has been long awaited by everybody: ordinary people, start-ups, SMEs and all kinds of organisations.”
The new telecoms package agreed by MEPs also includes rules on the right to internet access and broadband performance speed.
“Thanks to this agreement, Europe will also become the only region in world which legally guarantees open internet and net neutrality,” added Ms del Castillo.
“The principle of net neutrality will be applied directly in the 28 member states. It also ensures that we will not have a two-speed internet.”
The agreement on net neutrality means internet service providers must treat all internet traffic equally – although there are exceptions.
ISPs will still be able to prioritise ‘specialised services’ such as internet TV on the condition that it does not have an impact on general internet quality.
Critics, including the Web Foundation founded by Tim Berners-Lee, say the loophole will allow companies to pay for preferential treatment from ISPs.
The foundation’s CEO Anne Jellema said: “Today, Europe took a giant step away from its vision of becoming a world leader in the digital economy. These weak and unclear net neutrality regulations threaten innovation and free speech.”
Irish MEP Matt Carthy tweeted: “EU Parliament position on #NetNeutrality shows Corporate interests come first.”
As well as dealing with access to the internet, the European telecoms package also looked at the speeds consumers can expect to get.
Fixed and mobile broadband providers will now have to give new customers a clear explanation of what download and upload speeds they can usually expect.
Customers who do not get these speeds may be able to terminate their contract or be eligible for compensation.
Earlier this year, Cable.co.uk reported that a survey by Worldsim found that more than half of Britons don’t use their phone or tablet outside the UK because of fears of roaming charges.
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