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EU abolishes mobile roaming charges

The European Union has abolished roaming charges for people using mobile phones, meaning that those travelling within the countries that make up the union will pay the same rates as they pay at home.

A statement issued by European Parliament president Antonio Tajani, Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (on behalf of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union), and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said: "The European Union is about bringing people together and making their lives easier. The end of roaming charges is a true European success story.

The three officials called the abolition of roaming charges "one of the greatest and most tangible successes of the EU".

The move took effect on 15 June. Once Britain leaves the EU, it would have to decide whether or not to incorporate this regulation into British law.

"Over the last 10 years, our institutions have been working hard together to fix this market failure. Each time a European citizen crossed an EU border, be it for holidays, work, studies or just for a day, they had to worry about using their mobile phones and a high phone bill from the roaming charges when they came home. Roaming charges will now be a thing of the past," the three EU officials said.

"It has been a long time coming, with many actors involved. By working closely together, the European Union has delivered a concrete, positive result for European citizens.

"We are proud that the EU has put an end to very high roaming prices and thankful to those who showed the determination to overcome the many challenges and pursue this goal."

Ian MacLean, chief marketing officer of Metaswitch, a UK-based company that develops, manufactures, and markets telecommunications software, commented that the ruling would impact operators’ revenue by hundreds of millions of pounds a year.

"This regulation is being introduced at a time when competitive market conditions are negatively impacting the levels of customer growth seen by major operators, such as O2 and BT," MacLean said. "They must therefore respond swiftly by developing new revenue-generating services.

“This is a good time to be looking at services like Voice over LTE, video over LTE and voice over Wi-FI, and open service creation platforms that encourage rapid innovation.

"Significant opportunities also exist to address currently under-served market segments with collaborative mobile unified communication offerings for prosumer, family and enterprise customers. If operators move to open, programmable, all-IP networks, that are built on highly scalable and cost-effective virtual network functions, they can rapidly launch such services, increase market share and offset the loss of their roaming revenue.”

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.