Roaming charges may (still) become a thing of the past

Despite rumours of Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the EU Commission, dropping plans to scrap roaming charges; our favourite fighter for better telecommunications in Europe took to Twitter with a clear message: “Attention, everyone: I am NOT dropping plans to end roaming premiums in EU”.

This is great news for consumers; many of which may have experienced returning home from abroad to a bill which requires a double-take.

Leading a rebellion to the plans are heavyweights including; Vodafone, Orange and Telefónica - who claim ending roaming within Europe would be at a €7bn (£5.9bn) cost to their business. Under the plan, operators would be forced to provide a flat-rate across any operating country.

The idea is to use alliances in a similar respect to how airlines operate; offering access where the operator does not have a network – hoping to cover at least 85% of the European population.

Hutchison Three in the UK recently started offering a similar initiative called “Feel at Home” in which customers who travel to Republic of Ireland, Australia, Italy, Austria, Hong Kong, Sweden or Denmark – will do so on their inclusive plans; with no extra cost due to local partnerships.

Kroes described roaming as a “cash cow” for operators - whilst reducing profits - it also reduces the (sometimes unaffordable) costs to customers which restricts usage. Connectivity is such an important part of everyday life, yet many will completely switch their mobiles off whilst travelling.

This is all part of a wider initiative for a single telecoms market; albeit without a single regulator.

Some talks pitched national regulator’s powers such as Ofcom to be handed over to Brussels. One of the moderations planned includes preventing broadband companies from blocking access to possibly competing services such as Skype.

One of the legislations currently in place prevents European customers from running up a bill as a result of overseas usage of more than €50 (£42).

What do you think about the plans to scrap roaming charges?

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fitzalancrowe
12 Sep 2013, 3:59 p.m.

As one who travels frequently to Europe and maintains an sim card/account with a Belgian telecom for this reason, these new reforms seem promising. You can travel between France, Belgium and Germany in one day and you get stuck paying insanely high international roaming charges. There is no easy or affordable alternative. Even if this doesn't start until 2014, it is good to see changes may happen.

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