EU rewrites plans to scrap mobile roaming charges

Tourists with mobileImage copyright
AFP

European officials are rewriting detailed plans on how to bring data roaming charges to an end in countries across the EU.

Last year, the European Parliament agreed that extra costs faced by EU travellers using a mobile phone would be scrapped in June 2017.

Detailed plans announced this week suggested that charges would only be banned for 90 days a year.

That draft has now been ripped up and new plans will be published soon.

Bill shocks

An interim limit on roaming charges has been in place since April, with a full ban anticipated by June 2017. From that point, users within the EU will be charged the same as they would be in their home country.

The aim of the ban, in part, is to prevent EU consumers being caught out by huge bills when downloading films or other data during their European holidays.

There have been a number of cases when mobile users have been landed with bills for hundreds of euros or pounds.

Critics of the ban suggest the loss of revenue for mobile phone companies could push up prices in general, including prices for non-travellers.

‘Listening’

The European Commission drew up plans which suggested that the full ban would in fact have a time limit.

The proposal would have let companies charge roaming fees to consumers who used their phones abroad for more than 90 days in a year or for more than 30 days in a row.

Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein said that, on average, EU citizens spent 12 days abroad per year.

“Roaming charges are going to disappear entirely by June 2017, period,” he said.

But he added that, on the instruction of Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the draft proposal of exactly how that would happen would be withdrawn and a new version would be produced.

“We have been listening and now we are going back to the drawing board,” he said.



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