Cheaper phone calls, 5G and a right to Internet, a reality in 2019
Today, after more than a year of negotiating, the European Parliament adopted a new European Electronic Communication Code and new rules for Telecom regulators, the so called BEREC regulation.
The two new laws will set the way for the launch of 5G and should lead to faster deployment of fibre optic internet lines in Europe. However, the first measure of the more than 500 page law that most consumers will see is potentially lower telephone bills from May 15th 2019.
Thanks to the work of ALDE Party Vice President Dita Charanzová, the new law caps the price of calls between European Union countries at a maximum of 19 eurocents for both mobile and fixed calls (So-called ‘Intra-EU calls’). It also caps SMS at a maximum of 6 eurocents.
The adoption of this Intra-EU calls cap was the next step after the EU abolished roaming costs in 2017, which already capped calls and texts to national rates while roaming in other EU countries.
Asked to comment, Ms Charanzová said:
“I am proud of what we have achieved for European consumers. Rates have been unjustly high for too long. We are one Union and there was no logical reason for these costs. I hope this will be the end of bill-shock in Europe and a step towards the end of long distance rates all together.”
In many EU countries, more than 30 percent of the population is not equipped with smartphones. Even for those who have one, there is considerable lack of access to 3G and 4G in rural communities in many Member States. The ALDE MEP for consumer rights added: “This is why we did not give up on this fight. Less fortunate or connected citizens, as well as people leaving in rural areas, should be able to benefit from the single market”.
In addition to Intra-EU calls, under pressure from MEP Charanzová, the new law also includes more long-term and principled measures. Starting from 2020, every European citizen will have a right to an affordable internet connection. The law requires each European country to ensure, through either a voucher or a social tariff, that low income or disadvantage citizens can afford an internet connection.
“Internet must be seen as a utility. Just as we would not deny access to electricity or gas or water, no one should be denied access to the internet just because they are disadvantaged,” said Ms Charanzová.