S&Ds secure #roaming deal: Europeans will no longer have to switch off data while travelling

| February 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

thumbnail_170201RoamingInfoGEuro MEPs and member states held a third and final round of talks yesterday (31 January) evening on setting caps for the wholesale roaming charges telecom operators pay each other when their customers call, send texts or surf the web abroad. Under the leadership of S&D MEP and author of the parliamentary report on wholesale roaming costs, Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, the European Parliament obtained important concessions from member states on the wholesale data cap, putting it at a five-year-average of €4.4 per gigabyte, nearly half of the initial Commission proposal.

S&D MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri said: “Roaming charges are now a thing of the past. Europeans no longer face huge phone bills after travelling. They can use their phones abroad just like at home without paying extra. Instead of switching off their phone when crossing a border people will now be able to call their friends from the beach, tweet from a conference or check their emails at the airport.

“Delivering on roaming charges was a test of the EU’s ability to deliver – and we delivered. Under the leadership of the Socialists and Democrats, the European Parliament defended the interests of citizens and small operators against big telecom companies. Being able to push the data price cap down benefits the consumers directly, as the lower the cap, the more data they can use when travelling.”

Other parties also supported the move to drop coming charges. EPP MEP  Paul Rübig said: “Last night, we removed the last obstacle to the ‘roam like at home’ principle. Lower wholesale prices give leeway to lower prices for consumers. We stand firm on the promise made to consumers that roaming charges will disappear this summer.”

Andrus Ansip, vice president for the Digital Single Market, welcomed the agreement: “This was the last piece of the puzzle. As of 15 June, Europeans will be able to travel in the EU without roaming charges. We have also made sure that operators can continue competing to provide the most attractive offers to their home markets. Today we deliver on our promise. I warmly thank the European Parliament rapporteur Miapetra Kumpula-Natri and all the negotiators from the European Parliament as well as the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU and all those involved in achieving this milestone. Their efforts made it happen”.

Background

Parliament and Council agreed on the following caps:

  • €0.032 for voice call, instead of the proposed €0.04;
  • A gradually decreasing cap, from €7.75 per gigabyte from June 2017 to €2.5 per gigabyte by 2022 instead of €8.5 per gigabyte, and
  • €0.01 for text messages, as proposed by the Commission.

Last night’s deal is the final step towards the full abolition of retail roaming surcharges. Wholesale roaming prices indirectly affect consumers’ final bills. The agreed caps should enable telecoms operators to offer roaming services to their customers without any extra charges. Lower caps for data transfers would also enable EU consumers to access more audio-visual content abroad.

The agreement – reached last night (31 January) between the negotiators – is still waiting for formal approval by the industry committee, the European Parliament and national ministers.

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Category: A Frontpage, Business, Digital Single Market, EU, Roaming charges

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