October 27th, 2015, 21:49 PM
Europe to kill roaming charges in 2017
Travellers in Europe can get ready to say goodbye to roaming fees once and for all.
European politicians voted on Tuesday to kill international roaming charges across the EU by June 15, 2017. Phone users across Europe will also see fees for using data abroad cut by next summer.
Agreeing on a date for the abolition of roaming charges is a key part of Europe's Telecoms Single Market initiative, which was passed Tuesday by the European Parliament. That body also voted Tuesday on rules to govern Net neutrality.
Every European phone user who travels within the EU stands to benefit from the agreement, which allows the use the data abroad at no added cost. It's not such good news, though, for mobile operators who will have to bear the financial brunt of the abolishing roaming charge. One way they could do this is by raising the price of phone bills across the board, which would make day-to-day smartphone use more expensive for consumers.
"The major concern is if and how mobile operators will recover their costs because we all know there's no such thing as a free lunch," said Ernest Doku, mobile expert for price comparison service uSwitch, in a statement. "If this regulation change isn't properly managed, higher mobile phone bills for all may just prove to be the sting in the tail, with infrequent travellers drawing the short straw."
UK regulator Ofcom had some reassuring words for British phone users. "We have worked with European bodies to develop important safeguards so that free roaming for people travelling overseas doesn't mean higher bills elsewhere," a spokeswoman told CNET. "The UK also has one of the most competitive mobile phone markets in Europe, so operators here have strong incentives to keep prices low."