European Parliament backs telecoms reform package

European Parliament backs roaming abolition, tougher net neutrality rules

03 APR 2014

The European Parliament has voted in favour of the EC’s reforms package which covers changes to current regulation for roaming charges, spectrum allocation, consumer protection and – most contentiously in recent days – hard-fought rules on net neutrality.

The plenary vote in the parliament was welcomed by EU digital commissioner Neelie Kroes (pictured), who zeroed in on the proposal to end roaming charges. The package was proposed by the EC in September 2013.

“In 2010 I promised to end roaming charges by the end of 2015, and now we are one step away from achieving that result,” Kroes stated.

EU member states will now review the proposed regulation and the commission hopes to get final agreement by the end of 2014.

In addition to roaming, spectrum and consumer measures, the package contains proposals on net neutrality. The parliament put forward amendments for stricter rules on net neutrality, particularly around so-called specialised services.

These amendments were introduced by left, liberal and green parties in the plenary session of the parliament after an earlier vote in favour of the package by the industry committee last month.

Some of these new amendments were supported during the parliamentary vote. One amendment said specialised services can only be offered if network capacity is sufficient to offer them in addition to internet access and not to its detriment.

Also, another amendment defined specialised services as a distinct capacity not marketed or usable as a substitute for internet access.

However, operators argue such rules tie their hands when it comes to developing new, customised services.

“For mobile to fulfil this potential, network operators must be able to develop services that meet the needs of consumers and charge different prices for differentiated products. This is also a key driver for the high network investment needed to meet Europe’s connectivity challenge and underpin growth,” said Anne Bouverot, director general, GSMA.

Specialised services could include additional high-speed, prioritised services offered to corporate users by operators.

Author

Richard Handford

Richard is the editor of Mobile World Live’s money channel and a contributor to the daily news service. He is an experienced technology and business journalist who previously worked as a freelancer for many publications over the last decade including...

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