Expensive roaming charges may soon be scrapped across Europe, if a proposal from the European Commission goes ahead, with charges for incoming calls the first to be being banned by as early as July next year.
The proposal needs first to be approved by the 28 members of the EU and European lawmakers before any changes can take place. The move comes as telecom companies struggle with falling revenues and concerns grow over the development of Europe’s broadband infrastructure.
The new rules are also designed to help EU companies invest more and expand across borders, as well as implementing an EU-wide protection of net neutrality. The move has been described as "its most ambitious plan in 26 years of telecom market reform”.
It’s thought that the measures will also "simplify red tape faced by companies” and help both users and service providers in a bid to make Europe a leading global digital force once again.
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 new rules will address the issue that there is no one single service provider that operates across the whole of Europe. This has led to operators and users across the 28 national EU markets facing different rules and pricing. The aim is to overcome this by implementing a single authorisation for operating telecoms with all of the EU’s member states.
It’s thought that companies will have the choice to offer plans that apply to everywhere in the EU, or to allow customers to "decouple” and use a local SIM when they are abroad.
With regard to net neutrality, blocking and throttling internet content could be banned in order to allow users "access to the full and open internet regardless of the cost or speed of their internet subscription.”
Internet users will also have the right to contracts written in plain English, a greater right to switch and the right to a 12 month contract. Users will also have the option to walk away from a contract if the vendor is not providing promised speeds.
"The legislation proposed today is great news for the future of mobile and internet in Europe. The European Commission says no to roaming premiums, yes to net neutrality, yes to investment, yes to new jobs. Fixing the telecoms sector is no longer about this one sector but about supporting the sustainable development of all sectors.” Said Vice President Neelie Kroes.