A European Union (EU) document, seen by Reuters, proposes that Europe’s mobile operators will have to offer their customers at least 100MB of data a year, at domestic rates, before they can charge additional roaming fees. It’s a step up from an earlier proposal allowing only 35MB before roaming charges kick in.
The new proposal comes at a time when EU member states and members of the European Parliament are negotiating new roaming and net neutrality rules.
Andrus Ansip, the European Commission’s vice-president for the digital single market, has made no secret of his desire to abolish roaming fees altogether, which the European parliament voted for last year (to come into effect by the end of 2015).
He scoffed at the compromise ‘35MB’ position, adopted by Europe’s council of ministers after resistance to European Parliament from EU member states.
“I cannot support the very limited basic allowance of council’s current reply to people’s call for the complete abolition of roaming charges – it is a joke,” he said, speaking earlier this year. “We must definitely go further. We should remember our ultimate aim: the full and swift abolition of roaming surcharges – and not only their reduction.”
The new allowance proposal also includes 100 minutes of incoming and outgoing voice calls, as well as 50 text messages, to go along with the 100MB of data. Again, an improvement on the 35 minutes of outgoing calls and 35 texts, which was backed by the council of ministers. Even so, these are modest improvements and unlikely to excite Ansip.
The new proposal, however, needs to be discussed further by member states and is likely to undergo changes in the next round of negotiations with the European Parliament, which, Reuters reports, is expected next month.