Mobile roaming fees for cell phones could be a thing of the past in Europe as a recent vote aims to phase it out by 2016. According to Reuters, the European Parliament voted in favor of ending cell phone roaming fees by 2016 and barring telecom operators from favoring some internet traffic over others.
The lawmakers hope the telecom reform legislation will ban roaming fees across the 28-country European Union by December 2015. They also want the sale of mobile licenses to be more uniform, consumer protections on mobile and broadband contracts to be increased, and to create a single market for telecom services that will also push big operators to invest more in networks.
"This vote is the EU delivering for citizens," said Neelie Kroes, the European commissioner for digital affairs.
"This is what the EU is all about - getting rid of barriers to make life easier and less expensive. We should know what we are buying, we should not be ripped off, and we should have the opportunity to change our mind."
Telecom operators will also be forced to stop blocking or slowing down certain services due to financial reasons or otherwise. For instance, some telecoms tried to ban Skype -- which allows free calls.
The telecom companies likely won't go down without a fight, though. The elimination of roaming fees and the allowance of free calls on services like Skype could really hit their bottom line, as charging customers fee after fee proves to be a big money maker.
The telecoms also believe that charging for different services and speeds would help put money toward network upgrades, but those opposed said this would kill the open internet.
This also certainly goes against the idea of net neutrality, which parliament is trying to maintain with new initiatives.
The legislation must still be approved by the Council of the European Union, but the Council is expected to make a decision in October.