The European Commission has voted to move forward with the plan to cut roaming charges for mobile phones out completely by the end of 2015. The EU Vice President in charge of the Digital Agenda policy says it’s proof the “EU is delivering for citizens,” and “getting rid of barriers to make life easier and less expensive.”
This is part of an ongoing plan to bring the many mobile networks operating in the 28 EU states together, and forcing them to charge the same for a call made abroad as one made on your local network. Previously plans have also been outlined to let users swap to another network while in another country, without having to change SIM cards.
Anyone who has used their phone on holiday will know the pain of roaming charges, and will welcome the news. However, the policy isn’t law yet, and it still has to be assessed and approved by EU ministers. Providing this goes smoothly, it’s hoped the plan will go into action at the end of this year.
Additionally, the EU wants networks to provide the same level of speed and performance to all its subscribers, regardless of what they’re using the data for. Some networks throttle back high-bandwidth services like streaming video or music, particularly during busy periods. Under the new rules, this practice would be outlawed.
While this is all very positive, and the changes will certainly have an impact on all our lives, the networks won’t be giving up the revenue from international roaming very easily. Expect to see them put up a fight over the coming months.