updated 10:13 am EDT, Fri September 6, 2013
Proposals to end European roaming charges to be published next week
Proposals to make European roaming charges illegal have surfaced again, in the form of a leaked draft of legislation. The 93-page document promises to introduce "measures to gradually end mobile roaming surcharges" in the region, and to "guarantee common high levels of consumer protection across the union," in the European Commission's (EC) ongoing battle with mobile carriers on the continent.
The details received by The Guardian state that carriers across Europe would be forced to offer the same flat rate for calls, texts, and Internet connections, regardless of what European country the customer is located in. If a carrier does not operate in a country, it needs to make "airline-style alliances" with other operators, in order to provide coverage at the normal cost. These alliances would need to cover at least 85 percent of the European population and 21 member states.
Carriers have been trying to deal with the issue for some time, and have largely opposed the proposals, claiming that it would cost them around 7 billion euro ($9.2 billion) in lost revenues. Despite this, some carriers are already moving ahead with removing international charges, with British carrier Three removing them entirely for calls to seven countries, five of which being European.
While the proposed legislation would be useful for Europeans, it would not affect the charges endured when roaming outside of Europe, nor for customers of carriers based outside of Europe visiting the continent.
The details of the document sound as if it would form part of proposals voted on by the EC in June, which fast-tracked legislation for its implementation by the beginning of July 2014. It is believed that the proposals will be published by the EC next week, and would also contain other telecommunications items that could help the end user, such as open Internet safeguards to prevent providers from blocking competing services and sites, such as Skype, and to also simplify the sale of mobile spectrum across the entire continent.