Reduced roaming charges, net neutrality come into force in EU

It's finally happened

Smartphone user on Tube

EU telecoms providers must cut surcharges for 'roaming' phone calls and data use in EU countries from 30 April, in preparation for the complete abolition of roaming charges in June 2017.

Until June 2017, telecoms providers will be allowed to charge up to five cents per minute on top of domestic prices, and up to two cents per text message, the European Parliament said.

The first EU-wide net neutrality rules will also come into force on 30 April. This aims to ensure open access to internet content without discrimination, the Parliament said.

Net neutrality is the principle that ISPs will deliver all content requested by customers equally, and where the speed and quality of content delivered to customers is not dictated by the price content producers are willing to pay internet service providers (ISPs) for preferential treatment of their content as it passes over the ISPs' network.

MEPs approved the roaming charges and net neutrality proposals last year despite criticisms of the plans by some technology companies and the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who referred to the net neutrality regulations the MEPs were voting on as being "weak and confusing" and a risk to "innovation, free speech and privacy".

The new EU net neutrality rules lay out conditions on when ISPs can block or throttle the delivery of content requested by users of their network. The rules prohibit "paid prioritisation" of content delivery online, although ISPs will be able to agree deals to deliver services of enhanced speed and quality with content providers in some cases, provided that it has no impact on "the open internet".

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