EU votes to abolish roaming charges

The European Parliament yesterday voted to abolish roaming phone charges by the end of next year.

EU votes to abolish roaming charges

Meanwhile, a new set of reduced fees will be introduced in July, in time for many people going on holidays to other EU countries, cutting costs for calls, texts, and downloads.

The package agreed — including a ban on blocking content — will now go to member states.

MEPs are encouraging them not to change the details when they come to vote on it before the end of the year.

Ireland South MEP Seán Kelly welcomed the vote and said: “Europeans should be able to travel to another EU country and continue to use their mobile phone without incurring additional charges. In the digital era, it is especially important that consumers can have access to the internet and mobile technology for a reasonable price while travelling.”

European Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes, who drew up the rules, was also very pleased with the parliament’s vote. “I am so pleased we are now just one step away from ending roaming charges and slivering net neutrality for all Europeans,” she said.

The telecoms package lists December 2015 as the date when roaming surcharges will end, while wholesale prices could also be limited after a review next June.

However, people hoping to buy a phone and sign up to a service in a low-cost country for continuous use in another country will not be allowed.

The package of measures is being hailed as a major step in ensuring net neutrality for EU citizens and of preventing service providers from discriminating between customers.

It forbids the blocking, slowing, and degrading of the internet; data packets must be handled in a non- discriminatory way so some customers’ mails cannot be prioritised over others; and the internet has precedence and cannot be affected or replaced by specialised services that would endanger an open net for the public.

New rates

Under cuts planned for July, consumers in another EU country will pay no more than:

19c per minute to make a voice call;

5c per minute to receive a voice call;

6c per text message sent;

20c per megabyte downloaded (internet usage charged by kilobyte used).

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