The European Parliament has backed new telecom legislation reform in Europe that aims to enforce net neutrality rules and end roaming charges starting in late 2015 in the 28 countries that are members of the European Union, Reuters reports.
“This vote is the EU delivering for citizens,” European commissioner for digital affairs Neelie Kroes said. “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.” The commissioner plans to overhaul Europe’s telecom landscape and make it more competitive with U.S. and Asian markets.
Telecoms and ISPs will be “barred form blocking or slowing down selected services for economic or other reasons,” a statement from the Parliament said, a decision which could prevent Internet operators from charging certain Internet companies extra fees for certain online services, especially bandwidth-hungry video and music streaming services.
Despite the Parliament’s vote, things may still change by October, as the legislation also has to be approved by the EU Council – a vote on the matter should take place in October. A recent report revealed that despite backing net neutrality, the EU may still leave a door open for companies to charge extra for certain online services.
Meanwhile, operators are still expected to lobby against the EU’s wishes until a decision is final. Analysts say that the loss of roaming charges will cause a five percent drop in revenues for local carriers. But the EU wants a “single market” for telecom services in the region, which would help “bolster consumer protections on mobile and broadband contracts and seek to make the sale of mobile licenses more uniform across Europe.”
Operators also want a portion of revenues from Internet streaming businesses, which would help them offset declining revenues from regular phone services and help fund network upgrades. Telecoms are expected to report a fifth consecutive drop in yearly revenues in 2014.