Roaming charges for using a mobile phone while travelling in the EU are to be capped next year and scrapped from mid-2017.
For years, mobile phone customers have returned from holiday only to find they have been hit with hefty bills for using their mobile devices while abroad.
These charges were particularly heavy for those using a lot of data, for example downloading a movie for their child to watch.
There have long been talks about scrapping the charges, but yesterday the European Parliament formally approved the rules.
Currently, data roaming charges are capped within the EU to €0.19 a minute for outgoing calls, €0.05 a minute for incoming calls, €0.06 per text message and €0.20 per megabyte of data downloaded, on top of the normal tariff.
The charges are added by mobile operators for calls, texts and internet browsing when phone users are abroad.
They have led to consumers being charged hundreds or even thousands of euros for using their phone while on holiday.
Roaming charges were — and are — a fairly big earner for operators. Some critics have suggested they will simply start hiking up other call charges to make up for this loss.
Consumers have been advised to keep a close eye on their monthly bills as the 2017 deadline nears.
An interim cap on charges will take effect from April 30 next year, prior to the full ban across the EU.
The interim cap means operators will only be able to charge a small additional amount to domestic prices of up to €0.05 per minute for calls, €0.02 per text message and €0.05 per MB of data.
This will make roaming charges within the EU 75% cheaper during the interim period, according to the European Commission.
Roaming charges will be completely removed by mid- June 2017.
Along with the roadmap for scrapping roaming charges, new net neutrality rules mean users across the EU will be free to access the content of their choice and will no longer be unfairly blocked or slowed down.
This will mean that access to a start-up’s website will not be unfairly slowed down in order to make way for bigger companies, the EC said.
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