April 3, 2014 / 10:45 AM / 5 years ago

European Parliament votes to end mobile roaming charges

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Parliament voted on Thursday to end mobile phone roaming fees by the end of 2015, a popular move widely supported by consumers.

The parliament also agreed to limit the ability of telecoms operators to strike lucrative deals with content providers by allowing them quicker network access in exchange for a fee - another stand in favor of consumers.

WHAT: Mobile roaming charges to be phased out by the end of 2015. Regulatory-imposed cuts started in 2009. Net neutrality rules, currently only enacted in the Netherlands and Slovenia, to be enshrined in EU laws, setting out the kind of services for which operators can charge extra to deliver at faster speeds.

WHAT TELECOMS PROVIDERS SAY: Lawmakers’ proposals on net neutrality - the principle that Internet service providers must treat all traffic equally regardless of the source or content - could hamper operators’ efforts to manage traffic, burden the industry excessively and hurt growth.

WHAT THE PROPOSALS MEAN IN EFFECT: The end of roaming could slice 5 percent off the telecom operators’ revenues. The net neutrality rules could curtail providers’ efforts to grab a share of lucrative profits from popular video streaming and music download services.

WHAT INTERNET ACTIVISTS SAY ON NET NEUTRALITY: Regulators should prevent the creation of a two-tier Internet, where only companies with deep pockets can afford to pay more to operators to deliver their services at faster speeds. Concerns that providers may promote their own packages to the disadvantage of rivals.

NEXT STEP: 28 European Union countries are expected to discuss with the European Commission on the lawmakers’ proposals which may lead to changes before they can become law.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Luke Baker

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