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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 19 September, 2019
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Roaming charges in the EU could be banned soon

The new legislative package launched today could bring the end to roaming charges and compulsory 24 month contracts.

mobile phone
mobile phone

TODAY THE EUROPEAN Commission adopted its most ambitious plan to reform the telecoms market in Europe.

Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso launched “Connected Continent” legislative package, which when adopted, will reduce consumer charges, simplify red tape faced by companies, and bring a range of new rights for both users and service providers.

The plan is to establish a single telecoms market in the EU that will see an end to roaming charges and international call premiums within Europe.

Roaming charges

Under the changes to roaming charges, incoming call charges while travelling in the EU would be banned from 1 July 2014. The EU Commission state that companies would have the choice of two options. They could either:

  • Offer phone plans that apply everywhere in the European Union, the price of which will be driven by domestic competition.
  • Allow their customers to “decouple” or opt for a separate roaming provider who offers cheaper rates (without having to buy a new SIM card)

This plan is one step further than the 2012 Roaming Regulation which subjects operators to wholesale price cuts of 67 per cent for data in July 2014.

International call premiums will also be no more.

Currently mobile phone operators tend to charge a premium for calls made by the customer back to their home country and to other EU countries.

The EU Commission state that “companies cannot charge more for a fixed intra-EU call than they do for a long-distance domestic call. For mobile intra-EU calls, the price could not be more than €0.19 per minute”.

Contracts

Consumer rights are also to be improved with the proposed legislation stating that customers should have the right “to plain language contracts” with more comparable information.

It should be easier to switch provider or contract and customers should have the right to a 12-month contract. Consumers should also have the right to walk away from a contract if promised internet speeds are not delivered.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said:

Further substantial progress towards a European single market for telecoms is essential for Europe’s strategic interests and economic progress. For the telecoms sector itself and for citizens who are frustrated that they do not have full and fair access to internet and mobile services.

Vice President Neelie Kroes, the Digital Agenda Commissioner responsible for the package, said the proposed legislation is “great news for the future of mobile and internet in Europe. The European Commission says no to roaming premiums, yes to net neutrality, yes to investment, yes to new jobs”.

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