EU to scrap mobile roaming charges within two years

Europe and middle east map at night lit up with data lines

The EU has announced that data roaming charges will be abolished by June 2017.

In a victory for consumers, a decision has been reached to limit the surcharges EU telecom firms can apply to customers consuming mobile data while abroad in Europe.

The new law will not come into effect for another two years, and companies will be permitted to add additional charges to their domestic rates for a temporary 14-month period after April 2016.

Net neutrality regulations were also outlined; while providers can use blocking to counter cybercrime, they will not be permitted to prioritise or restrict specific traffic.

There are also provisions to ensure that "specialised or innovative services" such as video conferencing or remote tele-surgery have a minimum acceptable standard.

While the decision is mainly for the benefit of business travellers and holidaymakers, the EU has also touted the advantages for "the cross-border use of connected devices and services (e.g. connected cars)".

This victory is something of an about-face for the EU. Earlier in the year, it was announced that data roaming charges would remain until at least 2018.

The previous defeat of EU net neutrality legislation was due to a substantial pushback from member states, despite approval from both the European Commission and European Parliament.

It also echoes similar rules which recently came into effect in America.

Under new net neutrality rules, US cable giants like AT&T, Time Warner and Comcast are prevented from artificially throttling internet speeds or blocking legitimate content.

However, the EU restrictions are a little laxer than those implemented in the US, as they include fair use' provisions.

"The rules prevent abusive uses: for example, if the customer buys a SIM card in another EU country where domestic prices are lower to use it at home; or if the customer permanently stays abroad with a domestic subscription of his home country."

"This is not the usual use of roaming as the vast majority of Europeans experience it. These unusual behaviours are also called 'permanent roaming' and could have a negative impact on domestic prices, and ultimately on consumers."

Adam Shepherd

Adam Shepherd has been a technology journalist since 2015, covering everything from cloud storage and security, to smartphones and servers. Over the course of his career, he’s seen the spread of 5G, the growing ubiquity of wireless devices, and the start of the connected revolution. He’s also been to more trade shows and technology conferences than he cares to count.

Adam is an avid follower of the latest hardware innovations, and he is never happier than when tinkering with complex network configurations, or exploring a new Linux distro. He was also previously a co-host on the ITPro Podcast, where he was often found ranting about his love of strange gadgets, his disdain for Windows Mobile, and everything in between.

You can find Adam tweeting about enterprise technology (or more often bad jokes) @AdamShepherUK.