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European Union plans to end mobile phone roaming charges

The Guardian - The European Union's executive arm is seeking to abolish mobile phone roaming charges across the 28-nation bloc as part of a wider package to streamline its telecoms sector.

The legislation, proposed by the EU Commission, foresees that customers will no longer have to pay for incoming calls when travelling in other EU countries starting in July 2014. Two years later, all roaming charges will be scrapped under the proposals. It also seeks to cap prices of EU-wide calls at the level of long-distance calls within a country.

The EU commissioner for digital affairs, Neelie Kroes, said the aim is for people to enjoy the same phone costs regardless of where they are in Europe. The changes are part of a package to fix the bloc's fragmented telecoms market and encourage investment in new high-speed networks. Kroes has been steadfast in her opposition to roaming fees, which saddle many holidaymakers with large bills when they return home. However, large network owners such as Vodafone, Orange and O2 owner Telefonica have warned that the proposals could cost them €7bn (£5.9bn), with operators forced to offer a flat rate at home or abroad for calls, texts and internet connections across the continent. Kroes has described roaming charges as a "cash cow" for operators and "a disproportionate irritant for travellers".