EU ends mobile roaming charges, guarantees net neutrality

The new deal will apply to all 28 European member states, allowing travelers to use text, voice, and data anywhere in the EU.

Yves Herman/Reuters/File
The EU has agreed to end mobile roaming charges in all 28 member states

One passport, one currency (for the most part), and soon, no roaming charges.

The European Union has reached an agreement to end roaming charges throughout the EU by June 2017.

This means travelers will send texts, use mobile data, and make mobile calls, without incurring fees for traveling anywhere in the 28 EU nations. The deal also mandates full net neutrality: "all internet traffic will be treated equally."

In other words, every internet user will have access to the online content and services they wish without any discrimination or interference (like blocking or slowing down) from internet service providers. 

"I welcome today's crucial agreement to finally end roaming charges and establish pragmatic net neutrality rules throughout the EU," said Günther Oettinger, EU commissioner for the digital economy and society.

At the moment, consumers traveling outside their home country pay additional fees – up to €0.19 ($0.21) per minute for outgoing calls, €0.06 ($0.07) for outgoing text messages, and €0.20 ($0.22) per megabyte of data. The EU has worked for 10 years to decrease roaming charges, with the result that prices have fallen by more than 80 percent since 2007. 

Under the new deal, roaming charges will be lowered again in April 2016 and abolished by June 2017. Starting next spring, roaming charges will fall to €0.05 ($0.06) per minute for calls, €0.02 ($0.02) per text, and €0.05 ($0.06) per megabyte of data.

fair-use safeguard protects against gaming the system, like buying a SIM card in a cheaper market to use at home, known as "permanent roaming."

"Europeans have been calling and waiting for the end of roaming charges as well as for net neutrality rules," said Andrus Ansip, EU commission vice-president. "They have been heard."

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