Extortionate charges for EU roaming to end in 2017
The end of mobile roaming charges in Europe by mid-2017 is good news for Irish tourists and businesses who wish to expand, it has been claimed.
Mobile phone users will pay the same price to make calls, send text messages and use data wherever they are in the EU from June 15, 2017, after the European Parliament formally approved the rules. This means users within the EU will be charged the same as they would in their home country.
Roaming charges will also become cheaper from April next year, when operators will only be able to charge a small additional amount to domestic prices of up to 0.05 euro per minute of call made, 0.02 euro per SMS sent, and 0.05 euro per MB of data, excluding VAT.
The new rules aim to prevent consumers receiving huge bills after downloading films or other data while travelling in Europe. Users across the EU will also be free to access the content of their choice and will no longer be unfairly blocked or slowed down.
This means access to a start-up's website would not be unfairly slowed down to make way for bigger companies, the EC said.
No service will be hampered because it does not pay an additional fee to internet service providers.
All internet traffic will be treated equally, subject to strict and clearly identified public-interest exceptions such as network security or combating child pornography.
Seán Kelly MEP said extortionate roaming charges would be a thing of the past.
"Consumers will no longer be ripped off when paying for mobile calls, texts and data when they travel to another EU member state," he said.
"This is a clear example of the effectiveness of the EU in action," he said, calling on UK citizens to consider this in terms of the upcoming referendum on EU membership.
Mr Kelly said the end of roaming fees was good news for Irish businesses who wished to expand: "With the end to roaming charges, we tear down another big, unnecessary barrier and make it easier for Irish businesses to take advantage of the Single European Market."
European Commission vice-president Andrus Ansip, responsible for the Digital Single Market, said: "The voice of Europeans has been heard. This is not only about money, this is about bringing down barriers in the Digital Single Market."