Roaming charges to be abolished within the EU by 2017

Data roaming charges within the EU look set to become a thing of the past by June 2017, thanks to a new ruling by the European Commission.

The ruling stipulates that all data charges should be abolished over the next two years, so mobile users can call or text when abroad as they would at home, without fear of grossly inflated bills.

Furthermore, interim rules will come into force next year to limit surcharges by up to 75 per cent. From April next year, telecoms operators will only be able to add a surcharge of 3.5p extra per minute for calls and 1.4p for texts. Data, meanwhile, can only be charged at 3.5p extra per megabyte.

This scheme will run for 14 months, before roaming charges are abolished altogether.

Years of campaigning

The Commission’s announcement comes after years of campaigning, with mobile users not only calling for fewer charges but also a clear definition of how EU nations will regulate internet traffic, in light of the net-neutrality rules being adopted across the Atlantic.

On the subject of net-neutrality, the EC said it will prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from favouring certain traffic, the first time such measures have been enshrined in law across Europe.

Despite these apparently positive steps, the end of roaming charges isn’t entirely guaranteed yet. Before then it needs to be presented before the EU’s member states in the second half of this year for formal adoption.

It’s expected the ruling will be passed through, especially after an EU-wide alliance gave its backing, having previously claimed the EC was watering down its proposed roaming regulations.

Speaking in light of the latest announcement, president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), Guy Verhofstadt, told bbc.co.uk how the “great roaming rip-off” would soon be brought to an end. The only factor that delayed the roll out, his group argues, were member states getting in the way to protect the interests of their own national operators.

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