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EU delays plan to scrap mobile roaming charges

Friday, March 6th 2015 by Dean Reilly

The European Union has pushed back to 2018 a decision on scrapping roaming charges for mobile phone users.

Both the European Parliament and European Commission had agreed that roaming charges should be withdrawn by the end of the year, a move which expected to benefit about 500 million people.

However, at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, ministers from the 28 EU member states effectively overruled that decision, and decided that the current charging structure could remain for another three years, before a proposed review in 2018.

Roaming fees are charged by mobile operators when users travel from country to country within the EU, often resulting in travellers facing expensive mobile bills, especially after using data in foreign countries.

Wednesday's meeting of ministers did produce a proposal for a “new pricing mechanism” which could make it cheaper to use mobile phones when travelling abroad in the EU.

A statement on the Council of the European Union website said: “Within certain limits to be determined, consumers could make and receive calls, send SMSs and use data services without paying anything extra on top of the domestic fee.

“Once this basic roaming allowance is used up, the operator may charge a fee, but this fee will be much lower than current charges.

“The roaming fee could not in any case be higher than the maximum wholesale rate that operators pay for using the networks of other member states.”

The statement said a decision would be made in 2018 on further measures to phase out roaming charges.

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