From 1 July 2014, Europeans travelling across the continent and accepting incoming calls will no longer have to put up with roaming charges – one of the first steps to be implemented in the new 26-year Single Telecoms Market plan adopted by the EU.
The new plan puts in place a single authority replacing 28 different regulators, which should harmonise the way operators access one another’s networks.
Roaming charges in the EU will be banned from 1 July 2014, and operators will have to provide consumers with price plans that either apply everywhere in the EU or let consumers have a choice of opting for a separate roaming provider that offers cheaper rates.
Telcos will also be barred from charging a premium for both fixed and mobile calls made from a consumer’s home country to other EU countries – intra-EU phone calls will be capped at 19 cents per minute.
“The legislation proposed today is great news for the future of mobile and internet in Europe,” said European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes, the Digital Agenda commissioner responsible for the package.
“The European Commission says no to roaming premiums, yes to net neutrality, yes to investment, yes to new jobs. Fixing the telecoms sector is no longer about this one sector but about supporting the sustainable development of all sectors.”
The telecoms sector makes up just 9pc of Europe’s digital economy because all sectors increasingly depend on connectivity to be globally competitive and deliver services.
While successive waves of reform by the European Union have helped transform the way telecoms services are delivered in the European Union, the sector still operates largely on the basis of 28 national markets. There is no telecoms company that operates across the whole EU, and both operators and customers face differing prices and rules.