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European Parliament Votes For Net Neutrality, Forbids Mobile Roaming Costs 148

Posted by timothy
from the everything-not-expressly-permitted dept.
First time accepted submitter TBerben (1061176) writes "The European Parliament has voted to accept the telecommunications reform bill. This bill simultaneously forbids mobile providers from charging roaming costs as of December 15, 2015 and guarantees net neutrality. Previous versions of the bill contained a much weaker definition of net neutrality, offering exemptions for 'specialized services,' but this was superseded in an amendment (original link, in Dutch) submitted by Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake (liberal fraction). Note that the legislation is not yet definitive: the Council of Ministers still has the deciding vote, but they are expected to follow the EP's vote."
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European Parliament Votes For Net Neutrality, Forbids Mobile Roaming Costs

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  • Good, I guess (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @07:55AM (#46648071)
    I'm big on NN, but I do admit there are good points made for market driven forces to allow buildup of delivery services. That breaks down with the lack of competition at the ISP level. I assume its similar in Europe as the US.

    Riddle me this. If Netflix pays and ISP for delivering its content with quality...should not all subscribers to that ISP, regardless of what plan they signed up for, get Netflix at the highest possible bandwidth?

    This issue can't be piecemeal-ed.
    • Re:Good, I guess (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:05AM (#46648167) Journal
      Net Netrality is less of a problem in Europe. Our ISPs aren't nearly as monopolised as they seem to be in the US. To be honest, I'm not even sure that this is automatically a goood thing. I don't mind my Netflix getting a extra bandwidth, as long as this is bandwidth in addition to what everyone already gets. The problem is establishing whether the high payers are getting extra or everyone else is gettign a reuced service. There's no actually a difference; it just depends what you consider the baseline to be.
      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by Chelloveck (14643)

        Then think about it reverse situation. I'm Amazon. We've been having a hard time getting traction for our streaming service; that lousy Netflix has the market locked up. We have all the bandwidth we need, so paying the ISP for more won't help. I know! We'll pay them to throttle Netflix's bandwidth!

        Or, I'm Comcast. We own NBC, and their ratings suck rocks. So we'll give preferential treatment for subscribers who stream our properties, and throttle the speed of properties we don't own. And if people really

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        If Netflix gets its own servers installed at the ISP, that's an improved service, but my understanding is that operators want to do things like prioritise traffic to/from their favoured clients when the network is oversubscribed, which is double-dipping.

      • by morgauxo (974071)

        I don't think it's likely to be 'in addition to'. 'In addition to' requires building of infrastructure. Taking away from everyone else just requires a software tweak in the routers.

      • by Solandri (704621)

        I don't mind my Netflix getting a extra bandwidth, as long as this is bandwidth in addition to what everyone already gets. The problem is establishing whether the high payers are getting extra or everyone else is gettign a reuced service. There's no actually a difference; it just depends what you consider the baseline to be.

        That's actually the crux of the matter. It's very difficult (if not impossible) to tell whether the ISP is using the money Netflix pays to buy extra bandwidth used for Netflix, or is

    • Re:Good, I guess (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:19AM (#46648309)

      I'm big on NN, but I do admit there are good points made for market driven forces to allow buildup of delivery services.

      When each ISP is a local monopoly, then there is no market. If every home had a choice of a dozen ISPs, there would be no need for NN. NN is needed to prevent ISPs from abusing their monopoly power.

      • Re:Good, I guess (Score:5, Informative)

        by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:30AM (#46648411) Journal
        Well, in Britain I had the choice of BT, Virgin, TalkTalk, Sky, Plusnet, Tesco, Clara.net and a whole load of others. So I don;t think any of them are local monopolies.
        • Re:Good, I guess (Score:5, Insightful)

          by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:33AM (#46648445) Homepage Journal

          Where I live in the U.S., I have two choices: Comcast or Verizon.

          Both charge $75/month for 15/5 which is the package available.

          You will this situation in many parts of the country where competition is defined as two companies charging the same high price for the same slow speeds.

          • by 91degrees (207121)
            Which suggests things are the wrong way round :) Unless the wholesaler charges extra to the end company (e.g. Netflix) - and I don't think it's set up so that they can - competition in Europe should for the most part prevent this sort of problem. In the US there is no competition to speak of, nor is there any apparent plan to create any. That's where net neutrality is actually needed.
        • last time I was in hull, there was only one choice.
        • by realxmp (518717)
          Depends what kind of monopoly you mean, because of regulation, maybe not in a Network Neutrality kind of way but it's still a monopoly. All but one of those options above are going over BT's local loop and a lot of the smaller operators also buy their exchange hub backhaul from BT (Also Plusnet is BT). BT Openreach (the bare wires bit) is pretty much a local monopoly in most of the country and thus why they're so heavily regulated. It's pretty hard to say how they'd behave if they weren't, but you can b
      • by jalopezp (2622345)
        The point of net neutrality is that net traffic is treated as a commodity. If service providers can choose which packets to give preferene, they not only compete on price and speed, they also compete on the shape of their packet preferences. This means competition moves from a commodity model to a monopolistically competitive one, which is less efficient. Granted, a duopoly is much less efficient, so it may be a moot point, but net neutrality is overall good, no matter how many ISPs there are.
        • Less efficient for theconsumer.

          But more profitable for the Corporations that SCOTUS and Congress work for.

      • Whoa there. Important nuance you're missing.

        The internet is, was, and hopefully will operate with network neutrality in place. The networks interacted in a (mostly) neutral way when it came to exchanging data.

        What you're talking about is legislature, rules, or regulation enforcing network neutrality.

        It's far more accurate to say that if every home had a choice of a dozen ISPs, there would be no ISP that didn't operate under NN principles or else they would simply go out of business.

        There have been a few exa

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      ISPs advertise, amd charge more for, higher speeds to your house.

      It's fraud to deliberately degrade Netflix to attempt to extort from them a portion of what I pay Netflix.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Solandri (704621)

      I'm big on NN, but I do admit there are good points made for market driven forces to allow buildup of delivery services. That breaks down with the lack of competition at the ISP level. I assume its similar in Europe as the US.

      It's not just lack of competition at the ISP level. Poorly thought out government-imposed standards can have the same effect too. When digital cell phone service rolled out, Europe mandated all carriers use GSM. GSM uses TDMA - it allocates a fixed timeslice to each user. During

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Interesting, thanks. However, I believe it is possible to do TDMA without dedicating particular frames to particular users.

        Instead of a tower assigning a frame to a phone, the phone could randomly pick one. Some packets will get lost due to collisions. This is how ADS-B works.

        However, it probably wouldn't scale nearly as well as CDMA, unless the frames are REALLY short so that there can be many of them (in which case overhead becomes a problem). If there are only 10 frames on a channel, then even a few

      • So CDMA scales beautifully with number of phones, while GSM does not scale at all. Consequently the CDMA carriers were the first to roll out 2g service. There was no way to fix GSM for data. They had to add on a different standard for data, which most carriers implemented with CDMA or wideband CDMA. That's right, the HSDPA data service on most 3g GSM phones was actually CDMA. That's why you could browse the web and talk on a GSM phone at the same time - it had one TDMA radio for voice, and a second CDMA radio for data. CDMA phones couldn't do that (unless they supported voice over IP) because they only had one CDMA radio for both.

        As someone who developed GPRS for Ericsson back in the day, I don't even know where to start...

        There were a number of different competing standards, in different parts of the world. That CDMA wasn't mandated in the US was not for lack of trying by the US manufacturers.

        And, no, if we're talking about true packet data, i.e. not "phone modems", GSM/GPRS did emphatically not use a dedicated slot per user for data communication. Instead all the available "data" slots (and there can be many) were/are shared dynam

  • Cynicism (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Thanshin (1188877)

    Option A : Mobile providers make less money next year.

    Option B : Mobile providers raise the standard charges the exact necessary amount to avoid having losses due to this law.

    Option C : Mobile providers raise the standard charges more than necessary and justify the raise saying ordinary people need to pay for the yuppies who roam Europe in their sports cars while chatting on their phones.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The mobile provides in much of Europe are in the mid of a race to the bottom for years, whoever raises charges will go bankrupt because everyone will just move to another carrier.

    • Re:Cynicism (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:14AM (#46648253) Journal
      Option D: Mobile operators don't make significant losses because roaming charges are a pretty small chunk of their income, and it's offset by increased usage by travellers.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Roaming charges are not what you think they are then.

        Roaming is the most highly profitable part of a mobile carrier's income, because not every carrier can cover every square kilometer with service. The difference with the EU, unlike the US, is that one carrier often can cover the entire country, but not the entire EU. Euro's are accustomed to owning multiple SIM cards in unlocked phones. In the US the only roaming that happens is between the US and Canada or the US and the Caribbean. While certainly some r

        • by j'vai (3603175)
          aaah, that explains truphone's crazy charges in the central, south, & the carribeans..

          this is wishful thinking in the dark, but i pray what's happening with this EU no roaming thingy ties with what's about to happen here in the US -

          http://www.cnet.com/news/sprint-to-join-rural-operators-in-nationwide-roaming-hub/

          if sprint & softbank can push the envelope on this thing, & offer more dual mode handsets, (with sprint lightening up on their unlocking policy on the gsm sim side of those hansets) just
        • by rHBa (976986)
          As a Brit who lives in France I'm quite pleased about this proposal.

          The cost of mobile tariffs in the UK is considerably less than in France but if I used a UK SIM card in France it would cost me more than having a French SIM.

          If the UK operators had to charge me the same price to use my UK SIM card in France then I'd just get a UK SIM card and save money.

          BTW, I'm not talking about international calls, I'm aware that these would still be expensive.
      • They should have a +0: Wishful thinking moderation.

        If this were true, operators would have already stopped roaming charges because it's probably moderately expensive to track, bill, and maintain the infrastructure/software for it.

        I love it when people try to pretend "government knows best, it will help businesses!". Of course this will cost them money, don't be silly. They'll have to make it up somewhere else.

        • by 91degrees (207121)

          If this were true, operators would have already stopped roaming charges because it's probably moderately expensive to track, bill, and maintain the infrastructure/software for it.

          The only way they could find out if this was true would be by taking the risk. Why would they do that if they are profitable? Executives in big companies are quite risk averse.

          Of course this will cost them money, don't be silly. They'll have to make it up somewhere else.

          It may well do so. My suggestion was speculation. But how wi

    • Re:Cynicism (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:16AM (#46648279) Journal
      My mobile provider (3, in the UK) has started rolling out a thing that lets you use your inclusive minutes and data allowance in other countries without any extra charge (the costs if you go over those limits are pretty dire). It was actually cheaper for me to use data on my mobile when I visit the US than it was for the people I was visiting, on my last trip. I think they've seen the writing on the wall and started making these agreements long before they were needed. They're able to do this and charge 3p/minute for calls, 2p/text and 1p/MB for data (pre-pay - if you get a bundle and buy in bulk then things are cheaper, but the bundles are time limited).
      • by Sockatume (732728)

        They started out by offering free roaming onto the other "3" subsidiaries in other countries (which are actually different companies in the same parent group). I guess they noticed how this encouraged people to actually spend money while roaming.

      • by jittles (1613415)

        My mobile provider (3, in the UK) has started rolling out a thing that lets you use your inclusive minutes and data allowance in other countries without any extra charge (the costs if you go over those limits are pretty dire). It was actually cheaper for me to use data on my mobile when I visit the US than it was for the people I was visiting, on my last trip. I think they've seen the writing on the wall and started making these agreements long before they were needed. They're able to do this and charge 3p/minute for calls, 2p/text and 1p/MB for data (pre-pay - if you get a bundle and buy in bulk then things are cheaper, but the bundles are time limited).

        Just got back from a trip out of the US. With T-mobile I had free text and data in three different countries but the cost for a voice call was $0.20 a minute. Of course, with free data, I could use my voip service to make calls at $0.01 per minute.

      • by Xrikcus (207545)

        Even roaming charges in countries not covered by that scheme are better. I maintain a 3 phone on a UK number even though I live in the US, partly because it's a way to keep the number I've had for 15 years, and partly because it is just cheaper to use in all countries other than the US. At the moment it's even cheaper to use IN the US if calling the UK, as you point out.

    • Roaming causes no extra costs to the mobile providers (in europe) it only gives them unjustified extra money.

      • by CRCulver (715279)

        Since pan-European operators like Orange or Vodaphone are actually made up of many individual companies registered at the national level, would the use of an Orange network in country A by a customer from country B not result in at least some added accounting expense, as these individual companies have to coordinate their records?

        • by jalopezp (2622345)
          It will result in some added accounting expense for the companies. Part of the idea is to integrate the fragmented telephony market into a single Europe-wide one.
        • by nospam007 (722110) *

          "would the use of an Orange network in country A by a customer from country B not result in at least some added accounting expense..."

          About the same as a network in country B by a customer from country A.
          The costs cancel each other out.

          When they don't have to meter and bill the customers they'll have a net plus.

          • by CRCulver (715279)

            The costs cancel each other out.

            How do you know that? I think it is pretty obvious that, say, more customers from Orange Romania visit the territory of Orange France than vice-versa.

            And this new legislation will change nothing of the way that operators are legally registered.

        • Re:Cynicism (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bickerdyke (670000) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @09:15AM (#46648887)

          Sorry, but that's the internal business of orange or Vodafone.

          There WAS a reason, back when phone companies were indeed seperate companies, so the roaming costs were justified for those additional costs for both inter-company and inter-country accounting and banking.

          But the EU did as much as they could to get rid of those additional costs for international business. A company (in ANY business down to a family plumbing business!) can now serve the whole of europe without worrying about different tax, costumer protection, safety, or pipe-gauge regulations. The even invented a whole new currency for a bunch of countries, just to make business easier.

          At the same time, a wave of mergers hit the cellphone market with a few big players being active in every european country. ALSO to save money and getting rid of that internal accounting.

          If they're still loosing money for "coordinating internal records", it's their own fault and nothing that would justify roaming charges.

    • Re:Cynicism (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@CHEETAHnexusuk.org minus cat> on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:27AM (#46648381) Homepage

      Option B : Mobile providers raise the standard charges the exact necessary amount to avoid having losses due to this law.

      Option C : Mobile providers raise the standard charges more than necessary and justify the raise saying ordinary people need to pay for the yuppies who roam Europe in their sports cars while chatting on their phones.

      The rates are largely set by the market - if they could get away with raising their standard rates, don't you think they would have already done so?

      Also, you're ignoring a 4th option: they might actually make more money by having reasonable roaming charges. As an example, on my PAYG contract I pay £0.01/MB while at home, but while on a trip to Canada earlier in the year it would've been £6/MB - *600 times the domestic charge*. The upshot was that I simply turned off 3G on my phone and didn't use it at all - zero profit for the MNO. If the charges had been more reasonable then I probably would've left it turned on and they would've made some money. Same goes for voice calls too. (FWIW, roaming charges within the EU have been regulated for some time and are much much lower anyway)

      This is basically the EU saying "you've shown you can't be trusted to not take the piss, so we're taking our ball and going home".

      • Also, you're ignoring a 4th option: they might actually make more money by having reasonable roaming charges.

        It is a very good option, but she has no place in current sociopathic way of thinking of corporations. Currently they only use the option that brings maximum profit in minimum time, no matter the consequences.
      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Also, you're ignoring a 4th option: they might actually make more money by having reasonable roaming charges.

        This bill is about not having *any* roaming charges. You pay the same abroad as you do at home.

        • Also, you're ignoring a 4th option: they might actually make more money by having reasonable roaming charges.

          This bill is about not having *any* roaming charges. You pay the same abroad as you do at home.

          Yes, so they will make some money from me when I'm abroad, just as they do when I'm at home. Compared to, at the moment, them making nothing from me while I'm abroad.

          • by Joce640k (829181)

            But they'll make a lot less from the people who travel with company phones and don't give a damn about the phone bill.

      • This is basically the EU saying "you've shown you can't be trusted to not take the piss, so we're taking your ball and going home".

        FTFY

    • by jalopezp (2622345)
      Option D : More likely, large mobile providers in the more populous countries of the EU will stop making supranormal profits from corporate customers who travel for work, a hundred small operators from smaller countries will go bankrupt, and most others will merge or be acquired by a larger firm.

      I'm not trying to be funny. It's very easy to switch mobile operators, and there are a lot of mobile operators, which makes it very unlikely that they can collude on high prices. Most likely there will be an shift
      • In the EU, the same operators operate in all the countries. It just they set up this scam in the olden days, when life was different. Nowadays, most sane people get a new SIM as they cross the boarder, and do their best not to make calls with the one from the previous country, leading to a massive reduction in potential revenue for the carriers.

        The companies are run by a bunch of doped sloths who do not want to get their act together, even if it would benefit the shareholders as much as the customers, bec

    • by LQ (188043)

      Option C : Mobile providers raise the standard charges more than necessary and justify the raise saying ordinary people need to pay for the yuppies who roam Europe in their sports cars while chatting on their phones

      Or low paid workers going abroad to find work can afford to phone home. Or workers who commute across borders don't have to turn their phones off.

    • There's little actual cost involved in facilitating roaming. What happens is that every network charges the others high roaming charges, and nobody has any incentive to be the first one to drop and therefore lose the money.

      • Except that its exactly the same carriers in all the EU countries! They are charging themselves for these charges. Its complete bullshit.
  • I live in India and here too, the roaming charges are exorbitant. Though there are only a handful of operators, I see no technical reason why roaming charges should exist (Similar to how SMS has no implicit cost to the telecom, but we are charged anyways). I can only dream of a day where such a law will be passed in my country *No roaming charges* *Weep with joy*
    • by mgcarley (735176)

      Only a handful? There are 12 operators in India. Not MVNOs (which are technically illegal, although some are little more than additional brands established through Joint-Ventures with the bigger players, especially Tata) but operators with their own towers and licenses and all.

      There used to be 14 before Etisalat and that other one (Spice?) shut up shop... and with Loop now having been acquired that'll bring it down to 11... but compare that to say, China (3) or Russia (4) or even the US (effectively 5 if we

  • I'm moving to Europe. The real parts, not the Russian parts.
  • I wondered how this would affect their rates, then a google search produced -

    http://www.bizjournals.com/triad/prnewswire/press_releases/North_Carolina/2014/04/02/LA96177

    Cool for those that frequent travel over the pond often, but, for the carribeans, south, central americas, no love -

    $1.71per min outgoing calls
    $1.13per min incoming calls
    $0.51per SMS
    $8.57per MB

    If you're one who vacation frequently in these spots, & may have to overcome the language & time barriers upon stepping off the plan
  • It's nice to see Brussels actually making itself useful. Next they should work at banning mandatory TV licensing which is obnoxious and should not exist in the 21st century.

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