European Carriers To Scrap EU Roaming Fees Next Year

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Europeans will next year be able to take their smartphones anywhere within the EU and enjoy calls, texts, and data without paying a penny more than they do at home. Expensive roaming fees are set to be scrapped by July 1, 2014, after the European Commission voted to fast-track a major overhaul of telecoms regulation.

“They agreed that this time next year we will have got rid of these charges,” a source told British broadsheet The Telegraph. Detailed proposals for the new plan are expected to be drawn up within the next six weeks, finally putting an end to the incredibly high charges European carriers charge for roaming.

But the carriers may not lose as much as they think. The EC believes the move will encourage smartphone users to use their devices more while they’re abroad, particularly to access the Internet, making up what they might have lost in excessive charges.

The EC hopes that the change will also encourage European carriers to consolidate. There are around 100 operators across Europe’s 27 member states — many of which are owned by the same parent company — and the EC believes this is far too many.

“There are around 100 operators in Europe and only four in the US,” one source said. “That’s not sustainable if we’re going to have a single market and investment. Europe has less 4G mobile broadband than Africa at the moment.”

Once roaming fees are out of the picture, it is hoped that foreign operators will compete for British customers — and vice versa. The EC is also hoping to see more carriers coming together to merge into one.

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