THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) has voted to scrap mobile roaming charges in 2014 as it looks to create a single European telecoms market.
The Telegraph reports that 27 European Commissioners voted on Tuesday to ban roaming charges for calls, texts and mobile data, with plans to be enforced as soon as 1 July 2014.
This means, in simple terms, that from the middle of next year mobile users will be able to use their phones abroad without facing extra costs for making calls, sending texts or accessing the internet.
These changes are part of an effort to create a single European telecoms market and encourage greater competition among mobile networks. While scrapping roaming charges is expected to knock two percent from mobile operators' revenues, networks are expected to benefit in the long run from customers using their phones more abroad.
Speaking to the Telegraph, a source with knowledge of the plans said, "There are around 100 [mobile] operators in Europe and only four in the US. That's not sustainable if we're going to have a single market and investment. Europe has less 4G mobile broadband than Africa at the moment.
"Consolidation is not the aim. The aim is a single market, but if it means we get fewer, stronger operators, that's good."
Neelie Kroes, the Commissioner responsible for implementing the EU's digital agenda, has also called on MPs to get behind plans to do away with mobile roaming charges.
"I want you to be able to go back to your constituents and say that you were able to end mobile roaming costs. I want you to be able to say that you saved their right to access the open internet, by guaranteeing net neutrality. I want you to be able to say we took real action on cybercrime and other threats," Kroes said earlier this month.
The EC is expected to publish detailed proposals within the next six weeks. µ