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European Council, 564/15, 8 July 2015

EU Council Confirms Deal on Lower Roaming Charges and Net Neutrality

On 8 July 2015, the Member States gathered at the Permanent Representatives Committee approved the deal with the EU Parliament on ending mobile roaming charges and introducing  first EU-wide rules to safeguard open internet access (= net neutrality).

End of roaming fees in mid-2017

Under the agreement, roaming surcharges in the European Union will be abolished as of 15 June 2017. However, roaming providers will be able to apply a 'fair use policy' to prevent abusive use of roaming. This will include using roaming services for purposes other than periodic travel.

For roaming that goes beyond fair use, a small fee may be charged. This fee cannot be higher than the maximum wholesale rate that operators pay for using the networks of other EU countries. The limit for fair use will be defined by the EU Commission by 15 December 2016.

To make the end of roaming charges sustainable throughout the EU, the current wholesale rates need to be brought down. To achieve this, the EU Commission will be mandated to review the wholesale roaming market and propose a new law by 15 June 2016. In addition, safeguards will be introduced to address the recovery of costs by operators.

Cheaper roaming already in 2016

Roaming fees will already come down on 30 April 2016. The maximum surcharge will then be €0.05 per minute for calls, €0.02 for texts and €0.05 per megabyte for data. These amounts correspond to the current maximum wholesale rates. For calls received, the maximum surcharge will be the weighted average of maximum mobile termination rates across the EU, to be set out by the EU Commission by the end of 2015.

The current EU roaming retail caps refer to what operators can charge their customers. In other words, they cover the domestic price plus the surcharge. Also after 30 April 2016, the sum of the domestic price and any surcharge cannot in any case be higher than the current retail caps (€0.19 per minute for calls, €0.06 for texts and €0.20 per megabyte of data).

Protecting open internet

For the first time, an EU law will stipulate that operators will have to treat all traffic equally when providing internet access services. The text also enshrines the principle of users' right to access and distribute content of their choice on the internet.

Operators may use reasonable traffic management measures to keep the internet running. Such measures are to be based on objective technical requirements, not on commercial considerations. Blocking or throttling will be allowed only in a limited number of circumstances, for instance to counter a cyber-attack or deal with exceptional or temporary traffic congestion.

Agreements on services optimised for specific content will be allowed where optimisation is necessary, but operators will have to ensure the general quality of internet access services. Such specialised services include for example telesurgery and connected cars.

The open internet rules will be applicable from 30 April 2016, which is the overall date of application of the new Regulation.

How will this become a law?

The agreed text will undergo technical finalisation. It then needs to be formally approved by the EU Council and the EU Parliament. The EU Council is expected to formally adopt it in the autumn 2015. This does not need to take place in the Telecom Council: any EU Council configuration has the power to adopt the legal act.

The Regulation will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal.

(ga)

EU Council, "End of roaming charges: Council confirms agreement with EP", press release 564/15, 8 July 2015

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down measures concerning the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent, and amending Directives 2002/20/EC, 2002/21/EC and 2002/22/EC and Regulations (EC) No 1211/2009 and (EU) No 531/2012
- Analysis of the final compromise text with a view to Agreement
10409/1/15 REV 1, 8 July 2015

Verlag Dr. Otto Schmidt vom 09.07.2015 15:46

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