EU to ban mobile roaming charges by July 2014

14 Jun 2013

Twenty-seven European Commissioners have voted to end roaming charges in Europe by 1 July 2014 in a move they believe will help consumers but also strengthen Europe’s fragmented and saturated mobile phone industry.

The Telegraph reported today that the commissioners voted on Tuesday (11 June) to bring about a single European telecoms market.

Detailed proposals will be drawn up and published in the next six weeks.

While the death of roaming could remove 2pc from the revenues of mobile operators, in the longer term it will be better for the industry and end the frustration experienced by business travellers and holiday makers as they cross borders.

The other reality that needs to be addressed, and which was very apparent at the GSM Association’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, this year, was the need for consolidation in the European telecoms market.

There are 100 mobile operators active in Europe compared with just four in the US.

Breaking down barriers

The need to get rid of mobile roaming altogether was signalled in recent weeks by European Commissioner responsible for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes, who said she wanted to end roaming in Europe by early 2014.

She told the members of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) at the European Parliament in Brussels that she wants them to be able to go back to their constituents and say they were able to end mobile roaming costs.

At the time she said: “It will be good for Europe. Good for the economy, yes – growth stimulated by breaking down barriers. But when I think about this package I think about people rather than numbers.

“Take the young generation – the generation that cares most about being connected, but who votes the least. They need a strong and digital economy to escape the unemployment trap. Think also about our ageing population: the people who need new digital services to stay healthy and active, without losing their dignity and independence.

“If we do this right, then digital connections can bring political connections. Digital dividends can bring social ones.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years