BRUSSELS, April 3 (UPI) -- The European Parliament voted Thursday to end international roaming charges for using a cell phone abroad by December 15.
Under wide-ranging telecom reforms, there will be no charges applied to people within the E.U. for making calls or downloading data over the Internet. The changes will take place December 15, 2015 and still require review and approval from E.U. member governments.
"This is what the EU is all about -- getting rid of barriers to make life easier and less expensive," said European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes in a statement. "Nearly all of us depend on mobile and internet connections as part of our daily lives. We should know what we are buying, we should not be ripped off, and we should have the opportunity to change our mind."
In the past, many European vacationers have had to face large cell phone bills because of hefty roaming charges applied by service carriers. Roaming charges will still apply to travelers traveling outside Europe and they have been advised to check the costs before they travel to a country not in the E.U.
In recent years the E.U. has attempted to lower these charges, forcing service providers to cap costs. But a European Commission survey in February suggested that 94 percent of people used very little of the Internet when traveling because of the high cost attached.
The reform comes as data consumption is increasing on cell phones and tablets, and is expected to grow exponentially as service providers offer customers 4G network high-speed data downloads.
"Beyond the highly visible barrier of roaming we are now close to removing many other barriers so Europeans can enjoy open, seamless communications wherever they are," said Kroes.
The E.U. is also looking to protect net neutrality across the continent, which has been welcomed by consumers and consumer groups.