* Lawmakers against discriminating between Internet content
* European Parliament expected to agree with proposal at
* EU member nations' approvals still needed
By Foo Yun Chee and Leila Abboud
BRUSSELS, Feb 24 EU lawmakers postponed a
planned vote on Monday on scrapping mobile phone roaming charges
by 2015 and preventing telecoms network operators from charging
companies such as Google and Amazon to provide
faster web services.
Officials from the European Parliament said the committee
vote, one step in a series which could lead to changes in EU
rules, was delayed for procedural reasons. A new date will be
set in the coming days.
The proposals from the European Parliament's industry
committee go far beyond European Telecoms Commissioner Neelie
Kroes's plans to overhaul the EU telecoms industry, which
include ending roaming fees by 2016.
If implemented, they could hit Europe's telecoms providers
which are struggling to lift their revenues, down for the fifth
"Roaming providers shall not levy any surcharge (from Dec.
15, 2015) in comparison to the charges for mobile communications
services at domestic level on roaming customers in any member
states for any regulated roaming call made or received," the
committee said in a proposal document seen by Reuters.
It said roaming charges for sending text messages and for
using any regulated data roaming services should also be phased
out by the same deadline.
The committee could side with proponents of net neutrality,
concerned that telecoms companies might block or slow access to
content on the Internet or charge content providers more for
delivering their services at faster speeds.
"Where such agreements are concluded with the provider of
internet access, that provider should ensure that the enhanced
quality service does not cause material detriment to the general
quality of Internet access," the document said.
Telecoms operators, some of whom might already have such
deals, said industry sources, are opposed to the proposed rule.
"The principle that all types of Internet traffic have to be
treated equally is at odds with the way in which the Internet
works today, as different types of traffic have different
requirements and need to be managed efficiently," Luigi
Gambardella, head of the European Telecommunications Network
Operators' Association (ETNO), said.
ETNO, whose members include Orange, Telecom Italia
, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica
but not Vodafone, conveyed its criticism jointly with
the GSMA, the worldwide mobile operators' lobbying group, to
Kroes and the committee.
For the proposals to become law, they would need the
blessing of the full parliament, once they are approved in a
committee vote, and of the EU's 28 governments.