The European Union reached a preliminary deal early on Wednesday to cap wholesale charges telecom operators pay each other when their customers use their mobile phones abroad, paving the way for the abolition of roaming fees in June.
Wholesale price caps define how much telecoms operators can charge each other for using their networks to carry cross-border roaming calls.
Mobile roaming charges for EU consumers will end on June 15, 2017, enabling them to call and transfer data across borders from another EU member state for the same cost as at home.
"People all over the EU have waited for us to drop roaming charges in June 2017. Now all the negotiations are ready and we can deliver what was promised. Like consumer organizations all over Europe, we, too, see this as a great victory for the European consumers," said Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, who is steering the legislation through Parliament.
"The agreed caps ensure cost coverage for efficient operators throughout Europe but are low enough to sustain competition on the European telecom markets", she added.
The European Parliament and Council agreed on the following caps:
- €0.032 for voice call, instead of the proposed €0.04, a gradually decreasing cap, from €7.75 (15/06/2017) to €6 (01/01/2018), €4.5 (01/01/2019), €3.5 (01/01/2020), €3 (01/01/2021), €2.5 (01/01/2022) per gigabyte instead of €0.0085 per megabyte (or €8.5 per gigabyte), and
- €0.01 for text messages, as proposed by the Commission.
The deal is a necessary step towards the full abolition of retail roaming surcharges, which will enable consumers to use their mobile phones in other EU countries just as they do at home without paying extra fees.
The agreement still needs to be formally approved by the Industry Committee, Parliament as a whole and national ministers before entering into force.