EU mobile roaming charges to end in June 2017
Roaming charges for mobile phone users will end by June 2017, the European Commission (EC) has announced, putting to an end 'bill shock' experienced by European holidaymakers who use the internet too much (or accidentally) while abroad.
From June 2017, mobile phone users travelling in the EU will pay the same price as at home, with no extra charges.
This means they will be able to call a friend in another EU country, download movies or use the likes of Google Maps while out and about - and it won't make a difference on their bill (provided they have a data allowance as part of their tariff and don't go over it).
However, the European Commission said that in order to abolish roaming charges, "a series of technical conditions will have to be fulfilled", which is why the agreement will take two years to be introduced.
The EC has long been trying to scrap mobile roaming fees, but has until now only managed to reduce them.
For example, rules that capped mobile roaming fees across the EU were introduced on 1 July 2014, taking the maximum charge for downloading data from 45 cents to 20 cents (around 16p) a megabyte; outgoing calls drop from 24 cents to 19 cents a minute; outgoing texts fall from 8 cents to 6 cents a text; and incoming voice calls now cost 5 cents instead of 7 cents a minute.
Those efforts have meant that prices for roaming calls, text messages and data have fallen by 80% since 2007.
The EC also announced that strong 'net neutrality rules' that protect the right of every European to access internet content without discrimination will also be introduced. They will guarantee that users will be able to access content of their choice and will not be unfairly blocked or slowed down anymore.
Andrus Ansip, commission vice-president for the EC's Digital Single Market, said: "Europeans have been calling and waiting for the end of roaming charges as well as for net neutrality rules. They have been heard.
"We still have a lot of work ahead of us to create a Digital Single Market. Our plans to make it happen were fully endorsed by heads of state and government last week, and we should move faster than ever on this."
Consumers should remember that the current roaming caps (and the proposed scrapping of fees from June 2017) only apply to mobile use within the nations of the European Union, meaning holidaymakers who travel further afield still face the prospect of a sizeable bill.