European Parliament caps cost of phone calls in the EU | News | DW | 14.11.2018
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European Parliament caps cost of phone calls in the EU

European lawmakers have approved an overhaul of the bloc's telecom rules. To Europeans' delight, phone call and text message costs will be capped and measures will be taken to make 5G networks widely available by 2020.

The European Parliament has approved new telecommunications rules that will cap prices of intra-EU phone calls and push for fast 5G connections across the bloc.

During a vote on Wednesday, lawmakers approved a package of new rules they had previously agreed upon with ministers of the EU member states.

What the new rules mean:

  • Cheaper intra-EU phone calls: phone charges within the EU will be capped at 19 cents per minute for calls and 6 cents per text message, starting on May 15, 2019
  • Protection for smartphone users: telephone providers must use encryption systems to prevent security incidents and reduce their impact on users.
  • More rights for users: providers must help consumers monitor their data use; they should make it easier for consumers to compare offers and switch operators; they must provide a concise and readable contract summary.
  • Push for 5G: the agreement lays the foundation for the activation of high-speed 5G networks across the EU by 2020. This aims to ensure the development of technologies such as autonomous vehicles and e-healthcare.
  • Text message alert system: in case of a serious emergency or disaster, citizens in affected areas will be alerted by text message or mobile apps. Member states have 42 months to set up the system after the directive comes into effect.

'A victory for all EU citizens'

The new telecoms package was approved with 584 votes to 42.

Spanish MEP Pilar del Castillo Vera, who promoted the measure, said, "The code gives operators a more predictable investment environment, which is crucial to develop 5G communications."

"It was high time to cap the sometimes outrageous prices for international calls in the EU," said Constanze Krehl, speaker of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Europe for telecommunications. "In the case of German providers, up until now people have paid almost 10 times more."

A spokesman for the European Consumer Association said that "in most cases, thanks to the new rules consumers will be able to save considerable amounts starting from May 2019."  

What happens next: After the European Council's final approval, EU member states have two years to adopt the legislation and implement the directive.

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