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European Commission plans to end roaming charges

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The European Commission is planning to abolish mobile phone roaming charges and cut costs in a bid to reform the telecoms market.

The “Connected Continent” legislative package, 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 proposals need to be approved by the 28 EU member states and European lawmakers before it can come into effect.

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.”

The European Commission described the plans as its most ‘ambitious in 26 years of telecoms market reform’.

It said that currently the industry still operated on the basis of 28 national markets, rather than one unified market, meaning customers and companies faced differing prices and rules, and further headache when travelling around Europe.

But under the new proposals, companies will need one authorisation to operate in all countries, rather than 28 separate ones.

Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch, said: “Scrapping roaming charges in EU countries will better protect us from bill shock, and the doors will be open to foreign networks looking for a piece of the market in Britain, which could mean cheaper mobile deals too.

“But mobile networks won’t be popping the champagne corks – scrapping roaming charges altogether will dent their bottom line. And because they’re unlikely to go down without a fight, we could see further delays to these changes being bought in.

“Even if the changes do go ahead, our concern would be that consumers may lose out too if networks look to claw back the money lost through ending roaming by adding to all mobile bills.” 

The EC also said that harmonisations across the European market will also increase certainty for shareholders, encouraging more investment in mobile networks.

There are also plans for improved consumer rights.

This includes the right to a 12-month contract, rather than longer terms, and to more consumer friendly, jargon-free contracts.

The EC said customers should also have the right to walk away from contracts if they are not given the internet speeds promised when signing up to the provider.


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