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MEPs ban roaming charges across EU

European Parliament votes to end extra costs for phone and internet users travelling abroad

ROAMING charges, known as frais d’itinérance, are to be banned by the European Parliament from June 15, 2017.

The extra costs, familiar to anyone who has had to make a call on their smartphone from another country or checked the internet, are charged by your provider and have led to some very unpleasant surprises in the past.

Now the European Parliament has banned them with reduced charges introduced for the interim period. These will cut costs by 75% and will mean providers can charge no more than an extra five centimes per minute for calls; two centimes extra per text sent and five centimes extra for each megabyte of data.

At present only Free Mobile does not levy roaming charges – but from June, 2017 all its EU competitors will have to follow suit.

However, MEPs worded the law to permit providers to insure only “reasonable” use is made of the new privileges, to stop customers abusing the new system by using it to subscribe to foreign providers offering cheaper contracts than those in their own country.

It also confirms the principle of the neutrality of the internet, stipulating that everything transmitted via the web is treated in the same manner regardless of source, destination or contents.

Champions of total liberty of internet access have already criticised the new law, calling it half-hearted.

Formal legal recognition of freedom of the web has long been a major goal of defenders of internet user rights, but the law will mean operators retain various controls that allow them to restrict or permit access under certain circumstances.

For example, mobile phone providers will be able to sign agreements with some web services to offer them special access, or restrict internet coverage in the event of network problems or a cyber-attack.

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