Europe could see an end to roaming charges as early as December 2015 as a bill to ban the exorbitant charges looks set to be rubber-stamped next month and operators are still warning that the changes will drive bills through the roof.
The European Parliament’s industry committee is expected to approve the proposals today before the full parliament gives it the nod of approval on 3 April to allow consumers more peace of mind when sending emails or checking Facebook whilst abroad.
The legislation clarifies that from 15 December 2015, consumers will be given “the confidence to stay connected when they travel in the Union without being subject to additional charges over and above the tariffs which they pay in the Member State where their contract was concluded," according to The Guardian.
When it passes, mobile operators will not be able to charge travellers any more money for calls, text or Internet use whilst in any of the European Union’s member states.
Mobile operators are understandably worried at how the changes will affect business and a coalition that represents 15 operators, including Three and Virgin Media, warned that tariff prices will be on the increase if the bill passes in its current guise.
"There is a risk that domestic tariffs for European consumers will increase. Roaming might not be subject to surcharges anymore, but the overall level of tariffs would increase, and non-roaming customers might effectively foot the bill for roaming customers,” stated the roaming coalition.
The EU has already stipulated that from July 2014 the wholesale cost of roaming will be limited to 5 cents per megabyte of data and per voice call made, as well as 2 cents per text. One problem with that is UK consumers already pay far less than the wholesale price with £10 per gigabyte for mobile data whereas the new cap means it will cost €50 or £42 per gigabyte.