Ever been stung by a whopping great phone bill when you've just got back from holiday? Well those days could soon be over, as the European Commission wants to ban roaming charges. This isn't just pie in the sky, either. The commission will publish draft legislation next week that aims to put a stop to paying more on your mobile when abroad, the Guardian reports.
The legislation is spearheaded by Neelie Kroes, the commission's vice president who speaks on digital affairs. Unsurprisingly, the networks aren't in favour. They say ending roaming charges could cost them about £6 billion. Diddums.
The Guardian has seen the draft legislation. Apparently it'll mean us Brits will pay the same amount for calls, texts, and to use the Internet on our mobiles, whether we're at home or abroad. Airline-style alliances will be formed in countries where operators don't own a network. These alliances will need to cover at least 85 per cent of the European population, and 21 member states.
Sounds like there'll be a few hurdles to clear before this legislation comes in, then. So I wouldn't expect it too soon.
Kroes wants a single telecoms market for the whole of Europe. (This won't mean a single regulator for Europe, though. So Ofcom will continue to watch out for us Brits.) Kroes' proposal will be endorsed by the European Commission on Wednesday, then member states will meet next month to discuss the plan. It'll also need to be approved by the European parliament.
Sales of new mobile spectrum should be harmonised as well, as part of the legislation. So we shouldn't see piecemeal allocation, as we did with the 4G auction.
Roaming charges came down last year, and again earlier this summer. The legislation states that, from 2014, if your network does manage to keep roaming charges, you'll be able to switch to another operator while on your travels. You won't even need to change your phone number or SIM card.
All of which sounds good to me. Have you ever been stung by a massive phone bill when you got back from holiday? Should we see the end of roaming charges? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.