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EU orders the scrapping of roaming fees



Sets up net neutrality rules

It is starting to look like the EU is well ahead of the US when it comes to communications freedoms. Yesterday the European Parliament has voted to scrap the roaming fees charged for using a mobile phone while abroad. The change is due to take effect from 15 December next year. It still requires approval from EU governments.

Under the new rules the cost of making a call or downloading internet data in another EU country will be the same as at home. They also bought in rules which make it impossible for the development of a two-tiered internet which is being developed in the US. In recent years the EU has legislated to lower the costs, so telecoms operators have been forced to cap their fees.

A European Commission survey in February suggested that 94% of Europeans limit their use of the web when travelling in Europe because of the cost of mobile roaming. The EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, has said "consumers are fed up with being ripped off".

The European Parliament also voted to restrict internet service providers' (ISPs) ability to charge data-hungry services for faster network access. The principle behind the proposed law is that all internet traffic should be treated equally regardless of its source.

Operators have said the move would hinder their efforts to manage traffic a case they managed to use to convince US politicians so that they could screw more money out of Apple and Netflix. The telcos claim that the change in law would be anti-innovation but did not really explain why, unless they are talking about innovative ways to get money out of people.

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