The European Parliament today passed a law that will put an end to mobile roaming fees by 2017. The law was approved as part of a larger legislative package that also sought to strengthen net neutrality protections across the European Union, but which failed to close major loopholes that could be exploited to create internet "fast lanes."
The ban on roaming charges enjoyed broad support within the European Parliament, and was widely expected to pass. Under the measure, it will be illegal for telecoms to charge roaming fees for calls, text messages, and data as of June 15th, 2017. Consumers will instead pay the same rates they would in their home countries. As of April 30th, 2016, roaming charges will be capped at €0.05 per minute for outgoing calls, €0.02 for texts, and €0.05 for every megabyte of data. A cap for incoming calls will be determined at a later date.
"long awaited by everybody."
"This abolition of roaming surcharges has been long awaited by everybody," said Pilar del Castillo, a Spanish member of parliament and rapporteur of today's debate. "Thanks to this agreement, Europe will also become the only region in world which legally guarantees open internet and net neutrality. The principle of net neutrality will be applied directly in the 28 member states. It also ensures that we will not have a two-speed internet." (That last part is very debatable.)
Others weren't as thrilled about the law. Commenting on her website, Julia Reda, MEP for the European Pirate Party, said that both the net neutrality law and the roaming charges ban failed to deliver on their promise. "The plan to place an end to roaming surcharges in Europe has been adopted pending a review of pricing and consumption patterns," Reda writes. "Even if the review is completed by the 15 June 2017 deadline, roaming surcharges will only be suspended up to a 'fair use' limit beyond which they still apply and continue to hinder the breaking down of barriers within Europe.”