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EU commissioner calls for end to roaming fees

May 30, 2013 at 4:34 PM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, May 30 (UPI) -- The top ranking European Commission official for the digital environment called on companies to discontinue roaming fees and to end content segregation.

In a speech before members of the European Parliament's Industry, Research and Energy Committee, Commissioner Neelie Kroes called for "network neutrality," which means that video, voice and other forms of data sent through telecommunication networks all be treated the same.

In theory, the European Union is one telecommunication market. In reality, The New York Times reported Thursday, it is 27 separate markets in which the standard practice is to charge a higher rate called a roaming fee for users who cross their borders and make calls or use the Internet while traveling in another country.

The basic fees in Europe a reasonably priced, the Times reported. That makes the higher roaming fees a service that can provide companies with higher profit margins.

"I want you to be able to go back to your constituents and say that you were able to end mobile roaming costs. I want you to be able to say that you saved their right to access the open Internet, by guaranteeing net neutrality," Kroes said.

In response, the European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association said regulations need to be simpler for net neutrality to occur and discontinue roaming fees.

"A much less intrusive and a simplified regulatory framework, which will facilitate new investments and pave the way toward a digital single market," was needed first, the group said.

There are already restrictions on roaming fees in the European Union. Companies can charge 46 cents per minute for voice calls and about twice that for downloading a megabyte of data.

A spokesman for telecommunications carrier Vodafone said one of the company's service packages already leaned in the direction Kroes had espoused.

The package called Vodafone Red allows for unlimited texting and voice calls in 14 countries for about $3.90 per day.

Topics: Neelie Kroes
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