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MEPs call for an end to roaming fees while abroad by 2015

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Roaming fees for making mobile phone calls, sending texts or downloading data while abroad must end by 2015, the European Parliament said in a vote on Thursday, in its reaction to the legislative telecoms package presented by the Commission on Wednesday.

“More and more people own a smartphone or a tablet which they often have to switch off when they travel abroad to avoid high roaming fees. Europe pioneered the global mobile industry in the early 1990s, but today our industry can barely sell to a continent lacking in 4G and consumers miss out on the latest technological and device improvements,” said Jens Rohde, author of the resolution, adding, “we want to put an end to this fragmented market which is not fit for global competition.”

Large price differences between using your mobile phone at home and abroad, caused by “unbalanced profit margins on roaming” are one of the main reasons why a single telecoms market currently does not exist, MEPs said.

“In many cases, roaming accounts for about 10% of EU operators’ revenues, which means that industry and consumers pay double the price for roaming calls that operators have to pay in the wholesale market. The gap between roaming and national tariffs should therefore be closed by 2015.

To make full use of the potential of the digital economy – currently growing at seven times the rate of the rest of the economy – MEPs propose a series of other measures to reduce barriers and improve access to internet.

MEPs said that education and access to finance could help fill the expected 700 000 to 1 million high-quality ICT job vacancies (Commission estimates, and make it easier for people who want to start their own businesses.

MEPs stated that The EU should also invest in fast internet broadband so that, in 2020, all EU households are connected with broadband connections delivering at least 100 megabits/second.

They also called on the Commission and member states to open up more radio spectrums, which are now free since TV has gone digital, for mobile internet.

The European Council will discuss the digital agenda on its meeting on 24 and 25 October. The European Commission put forward a legislative package in the telecoms area last Wednesday. Parliament and national governments will now examine this proposal.

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