The European parliament has voted through new rules that will scrap mobile roaming charges and stop holidaymakers returning home to the nightmare of a massive phone bill.
Earlier in June, the EU sealed an initial agreement on this to begin effectively a couple of years after prolonged deliberations delayed the implementation by over a year.
Network operators, who will only be able to levy roaming charges at reduced rates from April 2016, will now need to start work on rolling back their ‘attractive’ roaming packs by June of 2017. The applicable rates from April 2016 onwards will be Ã¢â€šÂ¬0.05 per minute of calling, Ã¢â€šÂ¬0.02 per text and Ã¢â€šÂ¬0.05 per MB of internet data consumed.
Currently, network operators charge additional roaming charges of Ã¢â€šÂ¬0.19 and Ã¢â€šÂ¬0.05 per minute of outgoing and incoming calls, Ã¢â€šÂ¬0.06 per text and Ã¢â€šÂ¬0.20 per MB of internet data consumed.
UK mobile phone users who travel within Europe will only have to pay the same prices as they would at home, curbing the cost of continued mobile connectivity while abroad.
Former vice-president of the European Commission and rapporteur for the Trade in Services Agreement, Viviane Reding said:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“After 10 years of tireless fight, roaming is over. A victory for consumers and a stepping stone towards a truly European digital single market.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The vote followed more than two years of negotiations and U-turns as the European parliament butted heads with EU member states concerned about the financial impact on their national telecoms groups.
The anti-roaming plans had been scheduled for the end of 2015, but were blocked in March by ministers of national governments through the European council.
The roaming plans were twinned with a vote over amendment to telecoms regulation that would have reinforced European net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers should not give preferential treatment to certain websites and services. The amendments were rejected, leading to criticism by net neutrality campaigners.
The commission is saying the new amendments to the telecoms market will be an end to Ã¢â‚¬Å“huge telephone bills ruining your holiday budgetÃ¢â‚¬Â.
It is this trade that allows UK mobile phone users to make calls, send texts and access data using European networks while in countries such as Germany, Spain or France.
One-fifth of UK mobile users travelling to the EU in the last year have faced higher than usual bills for usage, collectively amounting to Ã‚Â£573m, according to data from Uswitch. The average charge added to bills was Ã‚Â£61 on top of a userÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s standard contract charge, while 17% faced bills of Ã‚Â£100 or more.