End of the road for roaming charges?

data-roaming-beach-phoneIt seems that today could be dubbed Sensible Friday. Firstly, it seems that the ridiculous cookie law – (you know, the one that makes a pop-up, pop up, every time you visit a web site for the first time on a particular device) has bitten the dust.

It’s still technically active but according to this blog the organisation responsible for policing the UK cookie law – Ico, has just announced that it itself, will stop asking users for permission to set cookies on their own website.

It’s as if the people policing the law have now realised that it’s very annoying have to click silly buttons about cookies that pop up every time you go to a site, ones that you might have already accepted but comes up again as you’re using a new computer or device.

Even better news though, and this is a biggie – the EU is set to end roaming charges for voice, text and data across the EU. Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda and  has been battling for some time to get roaming charges lowered, but scrapping them altogether is surely a better result than she could have envisioned. A group of 27 European Commissioners have voted to drive the proposal through in Brussels quickly and it could come into force a quickly as soon a 1 July 2014.

If there was ever a reason for the UK to stay in the EU, surely this is it.

The other big call from Brussels was that there should be consolidation in the European telecoms market – pointing out that there were over 100 operators in Europe and only four major ones in the US – covering approximately the same land mass. It’s a comment I first heard mooted by, Eduardo Duato, CTO of Orange Spain at the LTE World Summit in 2012. It’s a bold and sensible vision, but then as the EU is meant to be all about the single market, it is actually a long overdue call.

It won’t necessarily be good news for the little players, though they may well gain if there are mergers and acquisitions, and could well expand the market for MVNOs.

As a UK user, the thought of being able to take once phone over the channel and use it as you would do at home is going to be an incredibly liberating feeling, and one that is long overdue. While the loss of revenue is estimated by Brussels to cost the telcos in two per cent annually of their revenues, it will be made up for in the long term as users opt for more generous data packages – not to mention the huge goodwill it will engender in users – not something mobile telcos have been in overly bountiful supply.

One downside is that we will no longer have those regular stories of the time that Charlotte from Kent went to Spain and got charged £4272 on her mobile bill after she downloaded a whole series of ‘Made in Chelsea’ to her iPad while on the beach in Marbella. Those stories were great weren’t they?


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