EU roaming fees to be scrapped from 2017

Mobile roaming fees will be scrapped in the European Union (EU) from June 2017 after lawmakers reached a deal in the early hours of Tuesday morning following marathon talks.

Typically, mobile operators charge extra fees to make calls, send text messages and use data abroad, but the new rules will see European consumers paying the same prices across all 28-member states.

Latvia, which holds the rotating EU presidency, confirmed the move after 12 hours of negotiation talks.

There are, however, provisions to stop people taking advantage of the new rules, for example, if someone permanently moves abroad but has a mobile subscription from their home country.

European lawmakers have been working to abolish the roaming fees altogether since 2007. Charges have been slowly coming down over the years and will drop further in April 2016.

Net neutrality

European negotiators also came to an agreement on so-called net neutrality rules, which will see Internet providers banned from blocking or slowing down access to particular content, services or applications.

"Every European must be able to have access to the open Internet and all content and service providers must be able to provide their services via a high-quality open Internet," the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said in a statement.

franckreporter | E+ | Getty Images

The rules also mean that companies would not be able to pay for prioritization of their traffic on the Internet.

The only time Internet providers would be able to block or throttle service is for reasons of cybersecurity, legal orders and spam. Internet service providers will also be able to interfere if there is an "exceptional" boom in traffic congestion, but not if that is due to under-investment in their infrastructure.

Lawmakers did, however, made provisions for what they called "specialized services". These include high-definition videoconferencing or healthcare services like telesurgery – where people can video call doctors from their smartphones or computers.

These services often require higher Internet quality and are therefore allowed to be prioritized, providing "that they do not harm the open Internet access."

"It is important to have future proof rules which, while fully safeguarding the open Internet, allow market operators to provide services with specific quality requirements in order to provide them in safe manner," the Commission said in a statement.

Member states now need to agree to the proposed rules in order for them to become official.