The legislation concerning the abolishment of roaming charges is currently passing though the European Parliament.
According to proposals expected to be seen by the European Parliament on Tuesday, March 18, roaming charges for using your smartphone or tablet abroad could be abolished by December 2015.
This means you might not be hit by an extraordinary high mobile bill for checking your emails and posting holiday photographs when you’re abroad, if the legislation is approved by members of the European Parliament’s industry committee this week.
The legislation is due to be given the rubber stamp on April 3.
However, network operators have warned that your domestic phone bill could rise dramatically in order to cover the costs of abolishing roaming charges.
A coalition of networks representing the 45 million customers has outlined that the legislation is so badly designed it could cause domestic bills to rise dramatically. The coalition represents 15 network operators and virtual networks, including Three and Virgin Media for the UK.
“There is a risk that domestic tariffs for European consumers will increase,” according to the roaming coalition. “Roaming might not be subject to surcharges anymore, but the overall levels of tariffs would increase, and non-roaming customers might effectively foot the bill for roaming customers.”
It is believed that smaller operators could be charged a lot more than their customers are currently paying them, but larger networks like O2 or EE could create deals to limit the cost impact for consumers.
From July 2014, the wholesale roaming costs will be capped at 5 cents per megabit of data or per voice call made or 2 cents per text. This sounds like a very small price to pay, but currently British consumers pay a lot less.
“Effective wholesale regulation is key. Without it if customers from northern Europe go to southern Europe and use their smartphones they are going to incur very large wholesale charges, but the amount operators can recoup is going to be cut,” said Three’s regulatory affairs director John Blakemore. “That is unsustainable and at some point that could have an impact on the domestic prices operators have to charge their customers.”
The new legislation plans to give consumers “the confidence to stay connected when they travel in the Union without being subjected to additional charges over and above the tariffs which they pay in the Member State where their contract was concluded.”
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