Roaming charges for mobile phones will be abolished across the European Union (EU) in June 2017. The European Commission has announced that the process, which began in 2013, has finally led to an agreement.
The decision means that from 2017, mobile phone users travelling within the EU will pay the same price for calls, SMS messages and data as they do in their home country.
The change will come as part of a major overhaul of EU telecoms rules next year. It will be joined by a commitment to net neutrality, which will take effect from March 2016.
Roaming charges are already set to drop within the EU in April 2016 with caps on charges.
The measures on net neutrality will enshrine in the law the principle that paid prioritization of certain services should not be allowed.
However, internet service providers will still be able to offer higher quality services “so long as [those] services are not supplied at the expense of the quality of the open internet.” That’s a fair bit of wiggle room.
As usual with the European Commission (EC), there’s been a substantial amount of bureaucratic wrangling to get to this point. The body presented its proposal for a single telecoms market in September 2013, the European Parliament voted on the first reading of draft legislation in April 2014 and the European Council kicked off negotiations last year.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time we’ve been told that roaming charges were being “abolished.” In April 2014, the European Parliament was promising they would be gone by December 2015.
➤ Commission welcomes agreement to end roaming charges and to guarantee an open Internet [European Commission]
Image credit: Shutterstock/Marc Bruxelle