EU unveils major telecom reforms, end to roaming charges

Sep 11, 2013 by Bryan Mcmanus
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso delivers hisState of the Union speech, on September 11, 2013, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, northeastern of France.

The European Commission adopted controversial telecom sector reforms Wednesday which it said would create a 'fully connected' Europe and include an end to hugely unpopular mobile phone roaming charges.

Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso told the European Parliament it was vital there be a real 'single market' in telecoms to ensure the EU is not left behind.

"This proposal will lower prices for consumers, Europe will be more and more digital ... and give new opportunities to consumers," Barroso said.

"Isn't it a paradox that we have an internal market for goods but when it comes to digital we still have 28 national markets," he said.

Reform of the to break down national barriers is "key for competitiveness and employment (and) lays foundations for prosperity for years to come," he added.

The headline proposal is to end roaming charges—the extra paid by customers who use their mobile phones or portable devices while abroad—for from July 2014.

Companies should offer 'roam like at home' packages to cover the full EU or allow customers to subscribe to separate providers without changing their original SIM card, a Commission statement said.

EU Digital Agenda Commissioner Nellie Kroes has cut and aims to end them completely but operators say they are crucial for profits and so help fund the huge investments which Brussels wants.

In order to create a single telecoms market, the EU's executive arm envisaged a one-stop regulator to clear companies to operate in all 28 member states, replacing separate national approvals.

International call premiums will be banned, with the price of an intra-EU, fixed-line call capped at the cost of a long-distance connection in the country where it originates.

For mobile intra-EU calls, the charge must not exceed 0.19 cents per minute, the Commission said.

Companies will be able to set tariffs so as to recoup "objectively justified" investment costs "but arbitrary profits from intra-EU calls would disappear."

The Commission also backed 'net neutrality'—the principle that the Internet should be an open system—with companies barred from deals, for example on higher data transmission speeds, which could in practice restrict access by their rivals.

Companies can offer specialist, higher cost services such as video-on-demand or high-definition medical imaging but they must not hinder access to the network to the disadvantage of others.

Connectivity will be improved by better coordination of access to frequencies, controlled by governments, so as to better develop next generation 4G services.

4G operates five times faster than the current 3G network and allows users to download large e-mail attachments quickly, watch live television without buffering, make high-quality video calls and play live games on the go.

It is seen as the next essential step in the telecommunications revolution and Kroes has repeatedly lambasted EU countries for lagging behind.

Among other proposals, the Commission wants to see improved customer rights across the EU and increased certainty for investors.

The plans have proved controversial and last-minute wrangling over the details delayed the announcement to late Wednesday.

An EU source said the delay was largely due to the complexity of the issues involved in an "ambitious package."

The package now goes to Parliament and EU leaders for approval.

Explore further: EU to promise telecoms shake-up, end to roaming charges

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Phone calls cost eight times more in some EU states

Aug 06, 2013

The cost of making mobile phone calls remains a national lottery—up to eight times higher in the most expensive EU countries compared to the cheapest, the European Commission said Tuesday.

EU proposes end to roaming charges in mobile shake-up

May 30, 2013

Europe's Digital Agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes on Thursday proposed a radical shake-up of the mobile phone services market, including an end to roaming charges long denounced by consumer groups.

EU lags behind on 4G: official

Jul 25, 2013

EU member states should do more, and faster, to introduce next-generation 4G mobile phone services if Europe is to reap the benefits of the new technology.

Europe roaming fees cut in time for summer hols

Jun 27, 2013

Tourists within Europe can use their smartphones without fear of an outrageous bill waiting at home starting from this year's summer holidays, as the European Union is cutting maximum mobile data roaming ...

Europeans to see roaming charges cut abroad

Mar 28, 2012

Europeans will pay less from July 1 to use their mobile phones in each other's countries following agreement Wednesday between the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU member states.

Recommended for you

Hand out money with my mobile? I think I'm ready

Apr 17, 2014

A service is soon to launch in the UK that will enable us to transfer money to other people using just their name and mobile number. Paym is being hailed as a revolution in banking because you can pay peopl ...

Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —Quantenna Communications has announced that it has plans for releasing a chipset that will be capable of delivering 10Gbps WiFi to/from routers, bridges and computers by sometime next year. ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

Apr 16, 2014

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

Apr 16, 2014

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

Dish Network denies wrongdoing in $2M settlement

Apr 15, 2014

The state attorney general's office says Dish Network Corp. will reimburse Washington state customers about $2 million for what it calls a deceptive surcharge, but the satellite TV provider denies any wrongdoing.

Netflix's Comcast deal improves quality of video

Apr 14, 2014

Netflix's videos are streaming through Comcast's Internet service at their highest speeds in the past 17 months now that Netflix is paying for a more direct connection to Comcast's network.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Hackers of Oman news agency target Bouteflika

Hackers on Sunday targeted the website of Oman's official news agency, singling out and mocking Algeria's newly re-elected president Abdelaziz Bouteflika as a handicapped "dictator".

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...