Analysis:how brussel wants to print cell phone costs abroad

Analysis:how brussel wants to print cell phone costs abroad

After that, the EU commission wants to put an end to the regular price requirements from brussels – and get providers to voluntarily waive roaming charges. "We must put an end to roaming [charges], not just lower the price," said eu internet commissioner neelie kroes

When should cell phone calls abroad become as cheap as domestic calls??

The EU commission’s target date is 1. July 2016. "All consumers should then be able to make phone calls at the same prices as at home," says kroes. But there is no compulsion. Fixed network calls to other EU countries may then only cost as much as domestic calls.

How does the EU commission intend to achieve this??

Brussel wants to get providers to voluntarily waive roaming charges. Otherwise, they will have to allow customers to easily switch to a local provider during their travels. The costs for calls abroad or the retrieval of data had to be collected by the home provider for his foreign competitor – that is too expensive for him, is the calculation of EU commissioner kroes. Customers had it easy: they could switch with a combination of keys or by activating certain settings on their smartphones.

Aren’t roaming charges going down anyway??

But. New statutory caps have already been agreed, starting on 1 january 2009. July 2014. Calls would then be allowed to cost a maximum of 19 cents instead of the current 24 cents (excluding value-added tax), an SMS 6 cents and data downloads 20 cents per megabyte.

What should change?

Whoever is called on his cell phone abroad should no longer pay an extra fee. These surcharges are to be banned from july 2014 – currently 7 cents is charged. Consumers should also be able to switch phone providers more easily and to sign up for new contracts. They are entitled to a contract that runs for only 12 months.

And what about free communication services??

The EU commission wants to ensure that mobile operators will no longer be allowed to block or slow down services such as skype, whatsapp or viber. This is currently often the case without the customers knowing it. However, contracts between providers that ensure faster data transfer for certain services are to remain permitted. This is controversial. Critics like green european deputy jan philipp albrecht warn of a violation of net neutrality – the principle that different internet content should be treated equally.

What will the end of roaming mean for telecom companies??

Their lucrative business with international calls would be eliminated. According to the EU commission, roaming brings in billions for the companies each year. Commissioner kroes thinks roaming is no longer appropriate: "europeans pay for roaming when they cross national borders that no longer exist at all."

What is the criticism of the industry?

The EU threatens the existence of telecommunications companies. The industry association bitkom warns: "network operators are urgently dependent on the revenues from roaming in order to be able to finance the upcoming investments worth billions in network expansion."Is this good or bad for consumers??

First good, because mobile phone calls and surfing abroad could become cheaper. "Citizens can reduce their roaming costs," emphasizes eu commission president jose manuel barroso. However, experts doubt that the providers will give up revenues of their own accord. The bitkom association expects prices to rise in other areas, such as domestic telephone calls and mobile internet surfing. Network operators were allowed to subsidize end devices such as smartphones, tablet computers and cell phones less in the future – the customer had to pay more for the purchase. Bitkom therefore criticizes the eu proposals as a "cash grab for europe’s consumers". Business travelers and tourists were allowed to benefit from the plans, while the majority of cell phone users had to pay higher rates.

Will the EU-plane really come like this??

That is by no means certain. The telecom package must be approved by both the european parliament and the 28 eu countries in the council of ministers for it to take effect. Although the parliament – like many governments – is behind the abolition of roaming, because it expects it to promote the EU before the european elections in spring 2014. But the timetable for the EU law is very tight, especially as some points of the package are controversial.