Airport cellphone users...plans still underway to end their roaming charges. Photo: Dmitry Rozhov
The previously-announced plan to rid Europe of cellphone roaming charges is still on track, but delayed at the station for about another year.
The original plan, announced well over a year ago, would have ended roaming charges for calls and data within Europe by the end of this year. It was pushed as an economic benefit for Europe's economies as well as for Europe's half-billion individual citizens. Current charges can make use of calls and data outside one's home country expensive.
But phone carriers and others objected; in March, EU member states agreed to postpone the plan for at least three years, and to give travelers a small free roaming allowance starting in 2016.
That satisfied the carriers, but not the consumers. It also met resistance from some members of the European Parliament, and the European Commission continued to work on plans. European Digital Economy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger predicted Monday that a plan will be worked out to end the charges by early 2017.
Most of the objection to the original plan came from smaller telecom companies, and national carriers in smaller states. Oettinger believes that the current trend toward merger and consolidation will lead to more effective competition and to less resistance to the change. Europe has 280 significant carriers, compared to 4 in the U.S.
His staff is working on new agreements, and he believes "the European Commission, the governments of the 28 member states and the European Parliament will probably agree on it very soon."
For more information and background, see these articles:
PCWorld on original cap-and-end plan 6/2014
BBC.com for delay in original plan 3/2015
TheLocal.es for Oettinger's recent remarks 6/2015