Document Actions

Euro ministers ditch plan to ban roaming charges

The Register - National ministers do U-turn.

Europe’s telco ministers appear to have done a U-turn over a proposed total removal of mobile phone roaming charges by the end of the year.

In 2013, the European Commission proposed a plan - backed by MEPs - to end costly roaming surcharges by the end of 2015. No longer would holidaymakers or business travellers be surprised and horrified by shock bills for calls or data sent and received outside of their home country.

This would have been part of the the so-called Telecoms Package, which includes proposals related to net neutrality.

But this utopian dream was shattered on Wednesday by the council of national telecoms ministers. According to the draft text on new EU rules for telecom providers seen by your correspondent, national representatives now argue that “a transitional period is needed to allow roaming providers to adapt to wholesale market conditions”.

Although an element of ex-Commissioner Steelie Neelie Kroes’ roam-like-at-home plan is retained - phone companies should offer a roaming allowance “at levels not exceeding those applicable for domestic services” - the council text says providers will be allowed to add a surcharge.

It does not specify what the basic allowance should be before companies can start slapping on the extra fees.