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Saturday 3 December 2016

EU to scrap mobile roaming fees by 2017

Roaming charges are set to be abolished
Roaming charges are set to be abolished

The European Union reached a preliminary deal today to scrap mobile roaming charges across the 28-country bloc by June 2017 as part of an overhaul of the continent's telecoms market to boost growth and innovation.

"Under the agreement, roaming surcharges in the European Union will be abolished as of 15 June 2017," Latvia, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said in a statement after 12 hours of talks with EU lawmakers.

Roaming fees - the extra charges for using a mobile phone abroad - will still be subject to a fair use policy.

As a stop-gap from 2016, roaming fees will be capped at five cents per megabyte for mobile data, five cents per minute for calls and two cents per SMS message.

On the controversial issue of net neutrality, the EU plans to order telecoms operators to treat all Internet traffic equally and that blocking would only be allowed to counter cyber attacks or during peak periods.

Companies such as Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telecom Italia had lobbied to have more leeway to tap into a potentially lucrative source of revenue but Internet activists say this could create a two-speed Internet benefiting companies with deep pockets.

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