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Data roaming charges to be phased out within EU by 2017

Data roaming charges associated with using your mobile phone while travelling abroad within the 28 member countries of the European Union will be a thing of the past as soon as June 2017. After that, consumers will pay the same price for calls, text messages and internet surfing throughout the EU. 

Pikaviestipalvelujen kuvakkeita älypuhelimen näytöllä.
Roaming charges will become a thing of the past in the EU as of June 2017. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

A unanimous decision from the European Commission, European Parliament and the Council of Europe was reached on Tuesday to change EU legislation to stop charging data roaming fees for mobile phone use throughout the European Union.

The plan is to completely phase out the charges by mid-June of 2017. The move will begin in April of 2016, when roaming charges will be reduced significantly. Telecom operators will still be able to impose a surcharge for roaming services, but it will now be capped at five cents above standard domestic prices. The cap would make roaming within the EU 75 percent cheaper during the interim period, the European Commission said.

The new legislation is part of the EU’s comprehensive reform of telecommunications laws, meant to establish a common telecom market through the entire EU region. It follows earlier decisions to cap prices on mobile phone calls and data transfers.

The move also follows recent US adoption of net-neutrality rules. It is the first attempt in Europe to make it illegal for internet service providers to prioritise certain kinds of internet traffic. Service providers will still be able to favour services that require high-quality internet connections, such as internet TVs, as long as they do not affect the overall quality of traffic.

The commission said it would also reserve the right to control traffic if it was in the public interest, for example, to combat child pornography or a terrorist attack.

The agreement will be presented to the EU's member states between July and December this year for formal adoption.

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