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EU delays vote on roaming, open internet after TRANSLATION fail

Liberté, égalité, neutralité, er, du interwebs

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The European Parliament's industry committee has postponed a vote on putting an end to roaming charges across the EU by 2015 and ensuring that telcos don't get to charge companies like Google to pay for faster interwebs.

The Industry, Research and Energy committee (ITRE) was due to vote on a legislative report on roaming charges and open internet issues at a meeting late yesterday evening, but had to delay the vote when amendments weren't available in languages other than English.

The vote is just one of many legal moves in the effort to get the rules changed so that mobile operators have to provide phone contracts and bundles that work across the union instead of country by country.

Telecoms commissioner Neelie Kroes has been pushing hard for an end to roaming charges in the next two years. She argues that roaming charges, particularly data roaming costs, are stifling competition within the single European market between mobile operators and affecting businesses who work across the continent.

The report also deals with open access issues on the internet, following suggestions that telecoms firms might start charging or slowing access to certain online content in an effort to deliver fast speeds to their customers. Open internet champions are concerned that any preferential treatment employed by telcos to regulate line speeds will affect the (perceived) neutrality of the net.

The proposed rule changes would only allow telecoms firms to manage traffic in cases that "encompass prevention or impediment of serious crimes". Otherwise, minimising network congestion would only be considered reasonable in temporary or exceptional circumstances.

The next committee meeting is in mid-March, when the vote is likely to take place, though there's been no official confirmation as yet. ®

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