EU Commissioner ‘to ban roaming fees by 2017’

European Digital Economy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said on Monday that he wants to abolish roaming fees for mobile phone users within the EU by 2017.

EU Commissioner 'to ban roaming fees by 2017'
No more worrying about how much texting from the beach costs? Photo: DPA

“From the second quarter of 2017, roaming fees in the EU will probably fall away,” the former minister-president of Baden-Württemberg told journalists in Bonn.

“The European Commission, the governments of the 28 member states and the European Parliament (EP) will probably agree on it very soon.”

Oettinger's announcement comes just over a month after the European Commission dropped plans to abolish roaming charges from 2016 after objections from telecoms companies in smaller member states.

But a new compromise had to be reached after consumers' organizations and the EP protested vociferously.

“If the end of roaming comes in 2017, companies have a year longer compared with the old plans to conform to the new rules,” Oettinger said.

“And consumers will see yet more that they profit from the single market in telecoms. Roaming fees have already sunk a great deal.”

Wave of mergers expected

Oettinger believes that the EU must consolidate its telecoms market – pointing to the 280 telecoms companies across Europe compared with four in the US.

“To become more competitive and consolidate their networks, many more companies will merge in the coming years.

“That should lead to the European telecoms industry playing a bigger role on the global stage. But competition has to be assured.”

The Commissioner hopes to arrange the European telecoms market such that, for example, people could use a self-driving car – “an important market for Germany's car manufacturers” – to travel seamlessly from one country to another.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Swiss government set to change mobile phone roaming laws

A loophole which allows mobile phone companies to charge up to the nearest minute costs Swiss roaming customers up to CHF120 million per year.

Swiss government set to change mobile phone roaming laws
Photo: Depositphotos

The Swiss government plans on changing the law, according to a report in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung from Sunday. 

Currently, when Swiss mobile customers use their phones abroad, phone companies bill to the nearest minute – meaning that a call which takes one minute and three seconds will be billed for two minutes. 

Mobile phones: The best deals for foreigners in Switzerland

While this may not seem significant, given the already high costs of overseas roaming, the costs add up – and they’re getting higher and higher. 

Swiss communications minister Simonetta Sommaruga said that customers should not have to “pay for minutes and volumes of data they haven't consumed”. 

The proposal is to force companies to bill per second, bringing costs in line with the amount actually called. 

Figures from 2018 show that Swiss mobile customers were charged 69 million francs more than they should have been according to their call time – almost a third more than what they should have paid. 

The costs were even higher in 2019, approximately CHF120 million. 

As reported in the NZZ telecommunications companies are against the proposed changes. 

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; line-height: 14.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica}
p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; line-height: 14.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; min-height: 14.0px}
p.p3 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; line-height: 14.0px; font: 12.0px Times; color: #0000e9; -webkit-text-stroke: #0000e9}
span.s1 {text-decoration: underline ; font-kerning: none}