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EU to ban mobile roaming charges in June 2017

Posted on Tuesday, June 30 2015 @ 14:45:27 CEST by

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After years of negotiations EU authorities have reached a deal to get rid of mobile phone roaming charges throughout the EU starting June 15, 2017. Last year regulators wanted to ban roaming charges in 2015 but member states and the telecom industry didn't want to go that far that fast.

At present mobile operators can add a maximum surcharge 19 eurocents per minute of call made, 6 eurocents per SMS sent and 20 eurocents per MB of data, excl. VAT. These rules will remain in force until April 2016, when roaming charges will drop to 5 eurocents per minute of call made, 2 eurocents per SMS sent and 5 eurocents per MB of data sent.

Besides arguments on when the ban would be implemented, Politico writes net neutrality was one of the aspects the sides clashed most on. In the end, the sides decided that net shaping and throttling will be acceptable as long as it doesn't affect "general" quality of Internet access:
The sides had clashed most on open Internet rules, also known as net neutrality, with Council favoring a less strict approach, which allowed more traffic management for telecoms companies. Parliament fought for a more absolute guarantee for traffic being treated equally.

There was heated debate over whether telecoms operators should be able to sequester parts of their networks for specialized services, such as e-health provision. Parliament argued they should only be able to do so if there was no impact on Internet access for other parts of the network. Council wanted to soften the wording so that a slight impact would be permitted.

In the end, the sides decided that sequestering will be acceptable, as long as it doesn’t affect “general” quality of Internet access, according to the Latvian presidency.
Full details about the decision can be read at the EC's website. One important thing to consider is that despite the ban on roaming charges, the EU telecom market is stil far from an open market. From June 15, 2017 you will be paying the same prices as at home when you travel in the EU but protective measures are in place to prevent price competition between telecoms from different EU countries:
The rules prevent abusive uses: for example, if the customer buys a SIM card in another EU country where domestic prices are lower to use it at home; or if the customer permanently stays abroad with a domestic subscription of his home country. This is not the usual use of roaming as the vast majority of Europeans experience it. These unusual behaviours are also called 'permanent roaming' and could have a negative impact on domestic prices, and ultimately on consumers.

This is why there is a fair use safeguard. Once that limit is reached while being abroad, a small basic fee can be charged. This will be much lower than current caps (maximum prices that operators can charge consumers for roaming in the EU) and is likely to decrease even further. The Commission has been mandated to define the details of the fair use limit.



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