EU mobile roaming charges to be scrapped by June 2017
Mobile roaming charges in Europe will be scrapped by June 2017, it has been announced.
A deal reached yesterday means mobile users will pay the same prices for calls, texts and mobile data when travelling in the EU as they do at home.
Announcing the changes, the commission said a series of technical conditions will have to be met, but yesterday's agreement with the European Council and European Parliament will see roaming charges cease to exist in the EU as of 15 June 2017.
Before then, roaming charges will also become cheaper from April 2016, with operators restricted to surcharges up to €0.05 per minute for calls, €0.02 per text message, and €0.05 per MB of data.
The restrictions make roaming 75% cheaper than current roaming caps for calls and data, the commission said.
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.
Yesterday’s deal also includes an agreement on ‘net neutrality’ – the principle that all internet data and traffic should be treated equally.
Enshrining the principle of net neutrality into EU law for the first time, it requires internet traffic to be treated equally and means that users cannot be blocked or slowed down.
'Essential for consumers'
Exceptions include when it is in the public interest, such as security reasons or to fight child pornography.
The agreement also allows providers to offer ‘specialised services of higher quality’, such as internet TV and ‘new innovative applications’, as long as they are not supplied at the ‘expense of the quality of the open internet’.
The changes will be completed by an “ambitious overhaul” of EU telecoms rules which is part of the European Commission’s plans for a Digital Single Market.
Welcoming the agreement, Andrus Ansip, commission vice-president for the Digital Single Market, said: "Europeans have been calling and waiting for the end of roaming charges as well as for net neutrality rules. They have been heard.
"We still have a lot of work ahead of us to create a Digital Single Market.
“Our plans to make it happen were fully endorsed by heads of state and government last week, and we should move faster than ever on this."
Günther Oettinger, commissioner for the digital economy and society, also welcomed the agreement, saying the end of roaming charges and the establishment of “pragmatic” net neutrality rules are “essential for consumers and businesses in today’s European digital economy and society”.
In October, former European digital commissioner Neelie Kroes told Cable.co.uk that European telecoms reforms, including those around net neutrality and roaming charges, were a “balanced proposal” and hoped they would soon become law.
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