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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Tourism boost as EU roaming charges to be scrapped by 2017

Mobile

IRISH tourists travelling within the EU won't face hefty roaming charges in two years' time, thanks to new laws.

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.

European consumers will pay the same price for calls, texts and mobile data wherever they are travelling in the EU.

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 5c per megabyte for mobile data, 5c per minute for calls and 2c per SMS message.

That will make the maximum roaming charge about 75pc cheaper than under current tariff caps, the commission said.

EU lawmakers held discussions for 12 hours and agreed that surcharges will be abolished in two years' time.

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.

This means that users will be free to access the content of their choice on the web and will not be blocked or slowed down when visiting certain sites. Paid prioritisation is not allowed.

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 said this could create a two-speed internet, benefiting companies with deep pockets.

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Dublin MEP Brian Hayes welcomed today's move.

"This is good news for EU citizens. On average we in Ireland use our mobile phone than any other EU Member State," he said.

"From April 2016 a phrasing out of roaming charges will commence.

"This transitional period will mean that roaming charges will be four times lower than is the case today.

"Today's announcement is long overdue," he added.

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