European Parliament opts to abolish mobile roaming fees

Aivar Pau
, tech journalist
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European Parliament has decided to do away with mobile roaming charges in the European Union from June 15th 2017, and to cut them by four times as early as next spring.

Regarding yesterday’s decision, European Commission, Council of Europe and European parliament basically agreed at end of June. This is part of digital commissioner Andrus Ansip’s single digital market strategy aimed at boosting European competitiveness, harmonising member states and creating new jobs.

«This is a good decision for Europe and Europeans,» said Mr Ansip, addressing the European Parliament yesterday. «Also, I am really happy that we are able to find unity about net neutrality principles.»

Namely, European Parliament also approved the broadly polemic net neutrality principles prescribing that all humans have equal rights to the Internet and providers of communication service only have the right to limit Internet traffic under cyber threat.

Mostly, net neutrality principles have been criticised for their blurred wording. According to Sir Tim Berners-Lee who invented the web, the rules boost innovation, freedom of speech and the inviolability of private life, as well Europe’s ability to be leader in digital economy.

Estonian mobile operators think the abolishing of roaming fees have lots of loose ends and may result in higher mobile service fees in Estonia.

Tele2 Estonia CEO Argo Virkebau said they were ready for the positive decision and expect use of service to skyrocket sue to price drop.

Mr Virkebau said it was just a matter of time for the roaming charges to go, and that ordinary users would win out most. «As shown by price drops thus far, use will increase accordingly and thus companies will not lose much in income,» said Mr Virkebau.

Mr Virkebau said the regulation passed is very hazy at the moment, and its application unclear. «It has not been agreed how in reality and for which prices people will be using the services abroad. Also, what will be the wholesale prices between operators determining end price for consumer.»

«It will be tougher for mobile companies in Western Europe who will have to sell services to Estonia enterprises cheaper than to those at home. Thus, it may happen that an Estonian travelling in France is using the services cheaper than locals,» said Mr Virkebau. That, in turn, may bring fights between mobile operators in various nations.

Eesti Telekom’s communication director Kaja Sepp said the overall idea will surely serve to support single European economic space, mostly to the advantage of cross-border business enterprises and private persons.

«Meanwhile, for Estonian customers, price drop abroad may be accompanied by price rise at home as Estonian data communication prices are among the lowest in Europe,» Ms Sepp observed in June.