Recent reports have suggested that using your phone for calls, texts and data inside the European Union (EU) could get a whole lot cheaper from as early as next year but while this is on the horizon it’s not likely to happen quite that quickly.
That’s right, no longer would you be charged exorbitant amounts of money simply for travelling somewhere in Europe and having the temerity to switch on your phone to make a call, or look up an address to find out where you should be heading.
Indeed, just yesterday The Telegraph published a story which said the European Commission had voted to fast-track proposals to abolish roaming charges from 2014, and while this is technically still a possibility, it’s not very likely to happen.
Specifically, The Next Web understands from Commission sources that July 2014 is the absolute earliest it could come into force but that the start date is more likely to be 2015, and could be as late as 2017 depending on reactions from national governments and Members of European Parliament (MEPs).
So, it seems that while it could come into force next year, that really depends on you and whether you write to your national leaders and representatives in Brussels.
Naturally, we wanted to see what Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, had to say about it – after all, it’s her work that is spearheading this push.
“I have said from day one in this job that roaming charges should go by 2015. That didn’t look possible when we negotiated the latest regulation in 2012. Now, as part of a wider package it looks possible, and I will propose it,” Kroes told The Next Web.
“But it is very important to see this as a package. We can only achieve the end of roaming charges if we get support for the whole package, and voters will need to make their voice heard to make sure it happens quickly.”
The proposals to abolish roaming charges as early as next year (but more likely later than that) follow a rallying call Kroes delivered to the European Parliament at the end of May which also included safeguarding Net Neutrality for all.
One of the likely stumbling blocks in the plan is expected to come from mobile operators within Europe – there are more than 100 of them and roaming charges from calls, texts and data are still priced at a premium, meaning they’re still a good chunk of overall revenue.
The proposals follow Kroes’ earlier work on the topic of roaming, which has already seen the price of using your phone abroad within the EU fall dramatically with introduction of wholesale caps on pricing introduced in July last year.
However, with no global regulator or oversight, there is no global agreement, meaning that if you use your phone while travelling outside of the EU, don’t be too surprised if there’s a large bill waiting for you upon your return.
So, while next year could see the end of ‘bill shock’ within the EU, it’s not likely.
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