European Union vote clears the way to end roaming charges, enforce net neutrality

European Union vote clears the way to end roaming charges
By Alex Dobie on 3 Apr 2014 08:20 am EDT
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Free roaming within the European Union is a step closer today, after the European parliament voted in favor of laws that would abolish roaming fees between EU member states, as part of a package of telecom reforms. The package, originally proposed by EU lawmaker Neelie Kroes, moves Europe closer to a single market for mobile communication, especially with the recent arrival of 4G LTE roaming agreements between European carriers.

Should it pass muster with ministers from member nations, Europeans can look forward to roaming charges becoming a thing of the past. GigaOm reports that after clearing this final hurdle, European roaming fees could be eliminated by the end of 2015. It's worth remembering, however, that this would only affect subscribers to European mobile networks, not those from outside the EU roaming within Europe.

The EU telecoms package also included strong protections for net neutrality, making it illegal for network providers to block or impose speed restrictions on data based on the sender or recipient. It's a major victory for tech firms in Europe considering the recent setbacks faced by net neutrality in the U.S.

Source: Europa.eu; Via GigaOm

73 comments

Captain_Hilts

Why can't the USA be this progressive when it comes to net neutrality??

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AnimalPak200

I don't get charged roaming charges when I use my Maryland phone in California, or Florida, or New York, or ...

Just sayin'

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LuVJuGGs

Uh huh all those places are NOT a separate independent country like Europe.

This maybe great for consumers but what else can a bunch of bureaucrats force all the countries on the continent to do?

This is kinda why I think Europe is going broke

I flick!

yessuz

you understand, that EU situation is more like "I don't get charged roaming charges when I use my Maryland phone in Mexico, or Canada, or Panama, or Brasil, or ...

DonZ10

Try travelling to Canada or in my case Canada to the U.S.

johnnyuk

Why can't this happen in the USA? Too much capitalism, not enough free love! ;)

Man it feels good to be European hippy with a mobile phone today!

On a serious note, USA is one peculiar place for its mobile phone sector. From the stranglehold US carriers have on services, choice and costs to their attitudes being so inward looking and frankly behind the times. Athough the appearance of German owned T-Mobile USA in the sector has given the US based carriers a kick up the backside over how they operate even that company has a scarily unprofessional CEO by European standards as recent events on Twitter have proven. The arrogant culture of the US mobile carrier industry has poisoned even that company.

You unlucky people in the US pay way over the odds for mobile data compare to in Europe and have to choose between network technologies, not just suppliers, when buying a phone, in case you might want to switch carrier before you want to upgrade your phone. That only benefits the carrier, not you the paying customer.

Bring philosophical I suppose the incredibly cheap price you pay for oil in the US be it gasoline, diesel and any other oil compared to Europe makes up for it! Lol ;)

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johnnyuk

*Being philosophical, I meant, damn this beer! Lol

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cheadley1

Because we don't want it and very few carriers have roaming fees like we did at the beginning (over a decade now with nationwide roaming included)

Net Neutrality is not a good thing...will stop the carrier investment in upgrades...as they can't get the money back by advertising superior technology, coverage etc.

johnnyuk

Your Government has taught you well Grasshopper.

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RyanGermann

I think you mean "very few carriers have long distance fees" because in just about any country anywhere, if you're on the same network you're not "roaming".

"Roaming" is when you're on the network for a different company: that is, if you're a Verizon customer and you're not in an area where Verizon has coverage, you would either have no service, or you'd be "roaming" on another carrier's network, and that other carrier would have to bear the cost of providing you with service, which is marked up by something like 10000% and then that fee is passed to your carrier who marks it up another 10000% and then you pay that huge unreasonably-high bill after the fact, possibly without even knowing what the rates were going to be.

So, you STILL have "roaming" although you don't have long distance... and most carriers offer inexpensive country-wide no-long-distance plans, so that's nothing new.

Oh, and on the issue of "net neutrality is not a good thing?" the only people who reasonably believe that are shareholders in the carriers, because the lack of net neutrality laws negatively impacts every business and individual that isn't a infrastructure company (wireline or wireless carriers). Actually, it does negatively impact the shareholders of the carriers too, but for them, they'd rather have the upside of the share price increase rather than having low cost high quality services.

Carriers have an incentive to provide BETTER service when margins are thin and competition is high, far moreso than if there's way too much money to be easily made: high profits are a DISINCENTIVE to innovation (as we see with most Samsung and Apple products of late) Only things that threaten their profits make them innovate, so the more threats the better.

Dr J39

Fortunately, "roaming" is almost a thing of the past, here in the US. I am on Verizon, and can't remember the last time I could not reach my network. In the few areas where Verizon is not available, nothing else is either.

P.S. Before I go to Europe, I call Verizon, and get connected to Vodafone.

yessuz

Dude. Roaming is when you take your verizon phone to mexico

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RyanGermann

There are carriers that have limited network range ("regional carriers") and it is quite possible you can be in your own country or even your own state and be "roaming" on another company's network and incur roaming fees.

Dr J39

yessu. In the "good ole days" roaming was driving down the street, a few blocks, and winding up on another network. That was not that long ago, and that is what I was referring to. When you received your bill, it was listed under "Roaming."

scorepion

Sadly the first advantages will, at best be in 2015, but I dare to say it might take longer

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Eitot

Not necessarily. A couple of months ago, Orange Spain announced that they are abolishing roaming charges for their own customers very soon (if not already by now). I suspect that more providers will do this as soon as the law is enacted. They better do, because I will not waste any more money on my provider as soon as I am able to switch to a cheaper alternative from abroad. That's the beauty of it.

DetlevCM

Roaming is already a son ably cheap - while it still costs a fair amount of money it won't bankrupt you any more.
There are also warnings when your bill increase first.

I think the first big price drop was 2012 and then again 2013 - but there may have been one before that.
E.g. Roaming text messages are 11 pence naximum.

The idiotic part: it is cheaper to send a roaming SMS to any EU number than an SMS from your home country to another eu member state...

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Skatophilia

If only the prices here in Canada were as nice as they are in Europe

Halifax Guy

Yeah, that's what we need more expensive gas.

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TrueKulcha

Totally unrelated. Smh

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Halifax Guy

Not at all. "Prices" covers everything we spend money on to obtain. Thanks for your thought, though.

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buylocal_getaBB

He was referring to our ridiculously priced mobile rates and you know it. Gas prices... hmm, that definately relates to mobile tech and so obviously must be what he was talking about

Buy a bb, get a droid for free

Koepman

??? You talk sh*t

Since 2010 

Zippy1101

European prices are not cheap. Granted the "big-3" have raised their prices recently but for the most part you get greater value and more in Canadian plans than European and American.

CrackMachine

I'm living in Europe (Austria) now and pay 14 euros per month (about 21 C$) for essentially unlimited voice (2000 min), European wide roaming, text and data (no cap, speed just goes down if you use too much). It is a SIM only plan so I'm not paying off any phone subsidy. Try finding anything close to that anywhere in Canada.

Razuberi

I'm from Germany - prices in Europe aren't that cheap.. Austria and Luxemburg are way cheaper than every other country in Europe. For 25€ I got unlimited Voice, like 200 SMS and 500 MB "High-Speed" Mobile Network. "High-Speed" means HSPA - 16Mbps. LTE is a lot more expensive..
So I don't think, that Canada is more expensive like the big markets in Europe named Germany and UK. Austria is just a exception like I said.

Typed on a BlackBerry Z10.

yessuz

7 EUROS. Calls and texts unlimited. 1 gb data.

Lithuania ;)

DetlevCM

One has to shop around.
O2 in the UK are daylight robbery - extremely overpriced.
Three (UK) are cheap but I saw reports of bad indoor signals - they do give unlimited data though.
T-Mobile in the UK are well priced - 16 pounds per month for 1000 minutes, 3GB of data and unlimited SMS.

Orange was also too expensive...

Then there are a ton of pay as you go services that are very cheap to use as well for occasional users (mainly no data).

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ramxx

I have to pay an arm and a leg per month Fido - $90... It has only been 5 month, i had to get my brother to type this...

wout000

Living in Belgium, I pay 30 euros a month for 180 minutes of voice, unlimited texts, 1GB of data (4G).

Zirak

Why do we need full net neutrality? Is it not acceptable for a competitor using your equipment to have a less than the latest and greatest?

Sent while driving from my Crackberry.

Xandrex_BSCF

Net neutrality is for the end user. If you take the example of that competitor B, it will have to pay the privilege to use the network provided by competitor A, but will not be able to charge it's own customers who use the A infrastructure.

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Chris Westwood

Awesome :-)... least it means I don't get a £400 phone bill after I return off holiday........ that European parliament is good for something I see.......

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Eitot

As someone who lives in border region and crosses borders practically every day, the European Parliament means a lot to me. It takes decisions that affect my daily life, almost as much as my national parliament. This is something many people don't seem to realise.

herol

This is great news for all people in Europe!

MrJohnyBoy

This would make Europe better off than North America in cellular communications

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yessuz

Well, Europe IS better of than NA in cell...

Peter Chivers

Network operators will now put up charges to cover the lost revenue from roaming charges

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Eitot

Or they'll lose out against a cheaper competitor from another country.

rickster2611

All about the bottom line... people.

Competition is healthy. Stop ripping off US consumers or the Government will step in.

Do Carriers really want that ? Somehow I doubt it.

Why not get the jump ahead of the competition? It's just Common sense.

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LuVJuGGs

Who is forcing you to buy? The carrier is holding your family hostage or something? Over regulation is a slippery slope my friend!

I flick!

RyanGermann

Under regulation is sheer cliff. I'd rather risk sliding down a slippery slope into the mud than falling off the cliff (where the under-regulated financial industry almost took the entire financial system a few years ago).

buylocal_getaBB

Exactly. Couldn't have said it better myself

Buy a bb, get a droid for free

Warlack

Net neutrality is very important. The current roaming rates since July 2013 are ver nice already, since it is just a flat fee per call plus your tariff. Data is the only thing that is annoying me

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Dr J39

When I am in Europe, I turn off Data, and use only WiFi, for downloads.

igor10000

Finally. What kind of union is it with "roaming".

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Paul Collins4

Here I'm on virgin UK and it's 10 pound for 25 mb of roaming data. Expensive

Z10STL100-2/10.2.1.2141 pin:2AE6118E

willcookson

Great news for Europe. So pleased that it won't cost a fortune going overseas and wanting to use my mobile. Wondering if one of the operators will now bring it in earlier than legislation will force them to get ahead of the others. Great news for competition.

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sgietman

Hi I'm from the Netherlands also known as Holland, I have a prepaid kind of thing,for 15 euro s I've got free SMS messages as much as I want, unlimited use of 3G Internet data and for every euro I put on my prepaid I get one free minute to call. I,m very pleased with it

Sgietman

yessuz

- Hi. I'm Dutch. I'm from Netherlands. I live in Holland.

just had to do this :D

Menesht12

What carrier are you using? Vodafone? My dad has a NL Vodafone and wants to text to me when I am in UK but it costs for me and him to text together.

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cheadley1

Net Neutrality will not be a good thing...it takes away any incentive for a network to improve...because if some other carriers user wants to use the upgrades, they have to let them use it, and can't even give priority to their own paying customers...

Are there some changes needed? Sure...but net neutrality is not going to make anything better.

buylocal_getaBB

I'm not sure if you understand the concept of net neutrality correctly. It does not take away the incentive for carriers to improve there networks at all. Carriers have been operating under net neutrality forever and we still see LTE and 4G networks rolling out.

Net neutrality would allow AT&T et al to charge you the consumer more depending on what kind of services you are using, to promote their services and limit any ones they want (youtube, skype, whatever). If you think it's a good thing to pay more to get the same speeds you currently get, then yes, net neutrality is a bad thing.

Buy a bb, get a droid for free

sgietman

LOL I don't live in Holland, big mistake made by almost all people who aren't from The Netherlands! excuses excepted ;-) have a nice evening

Sgietman

sgietman

Yessus, never stop laughing! You're much beautiful with a smile on your face. Greetz from the Netherlands

Sgietman

Jero_nimo

LOL
Good to see some nice Dutch people from the Netherlands.
I think we're in europe having one of the cheapest plans in the world. €29.50 for 1G data, 300min, 4g etc. Update's from T-Mobile Day after release. And a Z10 for free. And we al love Blackberry

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yessuz

it's easy for you to laugh...

you got weed and new kinds ;)

yessuz

BTW, guys, Broodje Bakpao - is a specific sandwich.. or is it made up thing?

cvdburgh

It actually exists, rest assured.

yessuz

What comes into the Broodje Bakpao?

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Rolf Hed

The U.S. is always getting suckered by corporations and corporate interests--net neutrality and the patent issues here are just the latest iteration... Pretty much all big industries (e.g., automotive, pharmaceutical, "corporate agriculture," entertainment, finance, etc.) run like that here it seems... :-/

yessuz

automotive industry is in much better situation in USA than in europe.

you can not buy some models/manufacturers in USA what we have in Europe, but you have MUCH better prices and specifications :)

Rolf Hed

That's an interesting point. :-) But I was thinking more about influence of the automotive industry on its own regulation and on the legislative process in the U.S.

The prices of cars in both places reflects, in part, differences in their markets. In a similar way, differences in models of cars offered are often different in different places in relation to particular difference in the types of cars that are desired.

Orange UK

Now how long have I been saying BlackBerry never had its eyes on the ball... No roaming...What a way to take the BISness forward... BlackBerry Internet Security Europe Ltd..... Head Office in Luxembourg...Get that PlayBook back in support Chen and get on the phone to all the European telcos CEO's...all them BIS servers cost less and are more productive to be made redundant like BlackBerry staff. Give consumers the products they want with the service they want.

sgietman

Guys,i lov U, hugs and kisses.... no weeds or other kind of drugs taken... hahaha, let's go back to the topic.

Sgietman

dibbis

Gooooo Neeelieeeeeee

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cvdburgh

High Kudos for Neelie Kroes, one of the smartest and toughest Dutch politicians of all time. I'm so glad we were able to have her fill this EU post and get this legislation in place. Or at least, approved for now.

Makes you proud to be European, and specifically, Dutch!

Christophe Piquemal

Depends where you are...

In France, I pay less than 20€/month for a 4G, illimited voice, text and data (fair use of 20Gb, lower speed after that), free calls to landlines in all Europe, USA, Canada, China and some more...

Rootbrian

Does that happen to be windmobile or another independent carrier? I'm paying $39/month unlimited talk, text and data with much of the same features, fair usage after 5GB, slowed down a bit but like you, it rocks!

riss89

I like this. Customers wanted something and they fought for it til they got it. Beautiful.

Menesht12

Does this mean O2 UK sim can go abroad and use data and send text to other Vodafone users in other countries without extra charges? Maybe even free? I don't really get it.

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