Changing Europe’s mobile data scene has taken a while, but it’s finally happening for the betterment of the consumer. After years of debate within the European Union on how to lower or cut roaming charges, as of April 30, users are paying significantly less in roaming fees than they have in years past.
The goal is to eliminate roaming charges altogether come June 15, 2017. For now, users will pay a domestic price plus up to €0.05 for calls, texts, and data usage.
The measure to cut roaming fees has been in the works at the European Commission for years, and is part of an overarching plan to create a “single digital market” across Europe. Proponents of this market see the benefits in working together with fewer regulatory barriers; the European Commission has said that moving the 28 national markets to a single one could “contribute €415 billion per year” to the economy and create tons of new jobs.
Indeed, it might do both of those things, but opponents of the digital single market announced by the E.U. last spring say that it could also create new digital trade barriers with the U.S. and is not a panacea for Europe’s currently fragmented market. Some believe that individual European countries still have a long way to go in terms of technological advancement to even think about banding together for an improved telecom and internet market.
Regardless, Europe seems to be slowly moving ahead towards such a market, notably by eliminating mobile roaming charges across the continent. While telcos have decried this measure, saying it will cost them revenue and damage European telecom prowess, they have over a year to figure it out. And judging by how slowly the continent moved to make this change, they won’t have to worry about any other huge advances towards the single digital market for a while.