EU Bans Roaming Fees by Telecom Companies Starting in June 2017

The European Union prohibited telecommunications companies from charging premiums for roaming services as of mid-2017, the latest EU effort to help consumers with price regulation.

The European Parliament voted to ban surcharges for phoning, sending text messages and using mobile Internet while abroad in the EU. When traveling in the 28-nation bloc, mobile-phone users will pay the same price as at home starting on June 15, 2017.

“Surcharges are basically a tax on the free movement of people,” Pilar del Castillo, a Spanish member who steered the draft law through the EU Parliament, said on Tuesday in Strasbourg, France. “They affect millions and millions of citizens. They are going to disappear.”

The legislation also caps roaming fees as of April 30, 2016. Under this provision of the law, extra charges for roaming can’t exceed 0.05 euro ($0.06) a minute for voice calls, 0.02 euro for text messages and 0.05 euro a megabyte of mobile Internet use.

Furthermore, the new rules require companies that offer Internet access to treat all traffic equally -- the concept of “net neutrality” -- by prohibiting the blocking or slowing of some content over other. EU governments approved the package of legislation on Oct. 1, making the Parliament’s endorsement on Tuesday the final step in a legislative procedure that started in 2013.

Previous pro-consumer telecom initiatives by European lawmakers have included capping the costs of sending text messages and making voice calls when abroad in the EU.

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