The European Commission has announced that negotiators have come to a deal that will put an end to wireless roaming charges in European Union member countries as of June 15, 2017. Representatives of the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission have agreed on how wholesale roaming markets will be regulated such that Europeans will be able to travel within the EU without incurring any additional charges for roaming to different countries, effectively creating a “roam-like-at-home” system where travelers will be able to place calls, send text messages, and use data on their mobile devices anywhere in the EU at the same prices they pay in their home country. Regulators also agreed to wholesale caps on rates for voice calls and text messages, as well as a staged reduction over the next five years for wholesale data charges; these new wholesale caps represent the maximum charges that customers will pay while roaming if they exceed their contract limits.
According to a report by VentureBeat, a plan to eliminate roaming charges was originally announced two years ago, as part of a larger initiative to build a Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy that would unify the EU’s very different rules concerning digital content, e-commerce, and mobile communications. However, the plan ran into heavy opposition both from profit-focused telecom carriers on one side and consumers concerned about data usage caps on the other.
Andrus Ansip, the VP responsible for the EU’s DSM initiative, announced the new deal saying, “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. I warmly thank the European Parliament rapporteur Miapetra Kumpula-Natri and all the negotiators from the European Parliament as well as the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU and all those involved in achieving this milestone. Their efforts made it happen.”
The agreement must still be formally ratified by the European Parliament and the Council before it comes into effect. New wholesale roaming prices are scheduled for Jun. 15, 2017, providing operators with sufficient time to implement roam-like-at-home by that date.