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Europe makes U-turn on roaming; discusses open internet regulations

Margi Murphy | March 9, 2015
Roaming fees can cost travellers hundreds of pounds if they continue to use their mobile as they would in their home country.

Roaming charges will still be in place beyond 2018, despite plans to have them dismantled by the end of this year, according to the latest proposals from the European Commission.

Despite the fact that members of European parliament voted to abolish roaming fees by the end of 2015, the European Commission today proposed a softly-softly approach.

Rather than instructing the European parliament to write new laws to protect consumers from high fees when they travel across member states, as originally planned, the Commission will "assess by mid-2018 what further measures may be needed" with a view to phasing out roaming charges and will only propose new laws to address the situation then.

The Commission's new pricing mechanism means a basic roaming allowance will be offered to customers, limited to a certain amount of calls, texts and data services. After this, the operator may charge a fee.

Open internet

The Commission added that blocking, or slowing specific content or applications will be prohibited, unless necessary. For example, ISP customers may request certain spam blocks or firms could use it to prevent cyber attacks.

Paying for higher speed access will be regulated on a country-by-country basis, overseen by national regulatory bodies, the Commission said - an entirely different stance to the US who have championed net neutrality. Speaking during Mobile World Congress Tom Wheeler, chairman of the US federal communications commission said: "This is no more regulating the internet than the first amendment regulates free speech in our country."


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