The European Union took a big step toward creating a Digital Single Market today with the announcement of a deal that would end roaming charges for mobile consumers across the continent.
The plan had originally been announced two years ago when the European Commission unveiled an ambitious plan to create a DSM that would unify the continent’s fractured rules around digital content, ecommerce, and mobile communications.
However, the plan to end roaming charges across boarders ran into stiff opposition from telecom carriers worried about profits and consumers who were concerned about limits it imposed on data usage. As a result, the proposal appeared dead at one point last year.
But negotiators said today they had reached an agreement on technical issues like sharing carrier costs across networks and a gradual phase-out of caps on data usage.
“This was the last piece of the puzzle,” said Andrus Ansip, vice president for the Digital Single Market, in a statement. “As of 15 June, Europeans will be able to travel in the EU without roaming charges. We have also made sure that operators can continue competing to provide the most attractive offers to their home markets.”
The European Parliament and the Council still must officially vote on the deal. But with support from regulators, politicians, and carriers, the vote is expected to be a formality.
In general, European consumers enjoy far lower prices on telecom and internet services than are available in the U.S. This latest deal will offer one more benefit and a big cost savings to consumers in Europe.
After June 15, consumers will be able to “roam-like-at-home,” according to the deal. The costs for calls, sending an SMS, or using the internet on their mobile phone will be the same wherever they are in Europe. Regulators say the deal will boost competition while still letting carriers recoup their costs.