Kroes wins – Roaming charges for EU citizens to be scrapped by December 2015

Citizens across the EU have rallied behind the idea of scrapping roaming charges across the continent. Most of us have learnt our lesson the hard way and returned from a vacation or business trip with what seemed like moderate usage to a bill hard to comprehend.

Thanks to the work of Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the EU commission, the mobile networks’ abuse of our wallets is to end by December 2015.

The idea of a single telecoms market is one Kroes has fought for passionately – it would break down barriers preventing a progressive industry. Some of the key proposals include;

  • Single European regulator – to quickly make important decisions at a regional level.
  • Harmonised legal framework – Creating less confusion and streamlining the process in which rules and standards are implemented.
  • Spectrum reserved to be awarded on a European license to operators.
  • Europe-wide telephone numbers – to cut roaming charges.

With today’s European Parliament vote; that last point is soon to become a reality. Speaking after the groundbreaking vote – Neelie Kroes said the EU is: “getting rid of barriers to make life easier and less expensive.”

Of course mobile networks, who profit substantially from roaming charges, have lobbied against any such decision with the threat that the cost of domestic calls will rise. A coalition of 15 networks, which includes Three and Virgin Media in the UK, said:

“Roaming might not be subject to surcharges anymore, but the overall level of tariffs would increase, and non-roaming customers might effectively foot the bill for roaming customers.”

The best example of how a single telecoms market can work is in those which already employ it. In China and the USA large-scale operators such as China Mobile, AT&T and Verizon have benefitted from a unified regulatory regime and economies of scale, allowing them to invest in crucial network infrastructure and deliver faster, cheaper services to customers.

In the EU market all decisions are split at a regional level across the 27 member states – hindering development. Kroes wants the EU to pioneer 5G development; and this can only happen when the industry can move and iterate fast.

Roaming itself has been on a sharp decline however. Since 2008 the cost of calls and text messages has dropped 80 percent. Mobile network Three, despite being against an EU-wide abolishment of roaming charges, has abolished their charges in countries part of their “Feel at Home” scheme.

Feel at Home means Three customers can travel charge-free using their current plan (including data usage) to the USA, Italy, the Republic of Ireland, Austria, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Macau.

Neelie Kroes says: “I am so pleased that we are now just one step from ending roaming charges and delivering net neutrality for all Europeans. This is an historic day for the open Internet.”

What do you think about the EU’s latest telecoms decision?

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3 Apr 2014, 11:38 p.m.

i wish i lived in EU :) In my country roaming charges are high