Sunday 25 February 2018

European Parliament approves rules to end roaming charges within EU

Some border mobile phone users in Northern Ireland have paid around 300 pounds in additional roaming charges a year
Some border mobile phone users in Northern Ireland have paid around 300 pounds in additional roaming charges a year

The European Parliament has formally approved rules that will bring to an end the varied and confusing mobile roaming charges within the EU.

For years, mobile phone customers have returned from holiday only to find they have been hit with hefty bills for using their mobile devices while abroad.

These charges were particularly heavy for those using a lot of data, for example downloading a movie for their child to watch.

There have long been talks about scrapping the charges, but today the European Parliament formally approved the rules.

So the charges are now a thing of the past?

No, they are being gradually phased out. From next April, the amount operators can pile on top of your standard charge will be capped.

This will be set at a maximum of 0.05 euro (3p) per minute of call made, 0.02 euro (1p) per text sent, and 0.05 euro (3p) per MB of data, excluding VAT.

In June 15 2017 the charges will be scrapped across the EU, and you will be charged the same to make calls, send text messages and use data as if you were at home.

Why not scrap the charges now?

Network operators have insisted they need time to prepare the market for the changes.

Any other downsides?

Roaming charges were - and are - a fairly big earner for operators. Some critics have suggested they will simply start hiking up other call charges to make up for this loss.

Consumers have been advised to keep a close eye on their monthly bills as the 2017 deadline nears.

What else was announced today?

Along with the roadmap for scrapping roaming charges, new net neutrality rules mean users across the EU will 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 will 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.

Press Association

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