EU waters down roaming charges kill off

european-commissionEuropean regulators have dropped plans to ban roaming charges and have proposed net neutrality rules allowing privileged access in some cases.

It means that carriers will still be allowed to charge more to use mobiles abroad.

Also worrying are net neutrality rules would bar discrimination in internet access, but allow prioritisation of some services.

This is a watering down of laws first floated in 2013, observers said.

Instead of ending data roaming charges as was promised, the European Commission has recommended that operators be allowed to add surcharges to their domestic rates.

The proposals were said to be “transitional” and mindful of “wholesale costs” incurred by the mobile operators.

In other words it is only temporary and there is nothing to worry about. But, according to Ovum analyst Matthew Howett, they would amount to the continuation of data roaming charges until at least 2018, when European lawmakers would reconsider whether or not to ban them.

He told the BBC that the watering down happened because operators had already introduced more reasonable charges.

The proposals also covered net neutrality rules. Originally the EU sought to ensure that internet users could get online however they wanted and view any legal content they wanted, free from discrimination by their service providers.

Now it seems that there is a provision for specialised services “other than internet access services” to be prioritised if they required high quality internet access to function.

It is not clear what these specialised services are. More optimistic typeshope that it is connected cars and other elements of the internet of things.

The European Commission specified, however, that service providers would have to ensure a good standard of internet access for consumers if they did prioritise such services. This could mean that streaming video content could require users to shell out more cash.