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EC clears last step to end roaming charges

Manny Pham
February 2, 2017

Roaming charges will end by June 15 this year

The European Commission has penned a provisional deal on Wednesday (February 1) to usher in the abolishment of roaming charges in European Union states.

The deal to cap wholesale charges operators pay each other was the last step needed in a plan spanning ten years to end roaming fees, allowing people to use tariffs abroad at no additional cost. It will dictate how much operators must pay each other to for using other networks.

EU member states and the European Parliament must confirm the provisional deal.

Consumers are forced to pay roaming charges when connecting calls abroad. Charges are added on top of the cost of the call, making short calls expensive.

New caps have to be low enough for operators to offer free roaming to consumers without hiking domestic prices, but high enough to recover costs.

Fresh charges

Under the agreement, the wholesale charge for data will drop from the current cap of 50 euros (£43) per gigabyte (gb) to 7.7 euros (£6.60) per gb on 15 June.

The price will drop again on 1 January every year until January 2022 when it will be 2.5 euros (£2) per gigabyte.

Calls will drop from 0.05 euros (4p) per minute to 0.032 euros (3p) on 15 June, and text messages will go down from 0.02 euros (2p) to 0.01 euros (1p) per message.

The charges will be reviewed every two years and new caps proposed if necessary. The first report will be out at the end of 2019.

“Last piece of the puzzle”

European Commission vice-resident for the digital single market Andrus Ansi said: “This was the last piece of the puzzle. As of 15 June, Europeans will be able to travel in the EU without roaming charges. We have also made sure that operators can continue competing to provide the most attractive offers to their home markets. Today we deliver on our promise.”

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