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EC proposes scrapping charge-free roaming limitations

The European Commission proposed scrapping time and volumelimits on free mobile roaming, as part of plans to roaming surcharges across the EU byJune 2017 under a "fair use" policy.

The new draft rules would allow operators to determineEuropean customers who abuse free roaming by comparing phone usage patternsabroad and in their home country, according to a Sept. 21 news release.Subscribers could expect to pay roaming fees if the telcos found that: they usetheir mobile services more abroad than at home; their SIM card is long inactiveat home; or they use multiple SIM cards when traveling.

The commission is proposing a maximum charge of 4 euro centsper call, 1 euro cent per text message and 0.85 euro cent per MB of data.

The operators, however, would need to alert their users ofthe restrictions before applying the charges. In case of disputes, customersmay file complaints with the telecom regulator in their home country.

In addition, the telcos would need to comply with existingEU data protection regulations in tracking their customers' roaming habits, theEC said in a Sept. 22 fact sheet on the matter.

The charges would not apply to travelers using SIM cardsfrom their country of residence or those with a "stable link" to anEU country, such as work commuters, expatriates frequently staying in theirhome country or exchange students under the EU's Erasmus program.

The commission is expected to adopt the proposal's finalversion by Dec. 15, after considering feedback from the Body of EuropeanRegulators for Electronic Communications, EU member states and other interestedparties.

The EC previously proposed to limit the free roamingduration to 90 days per year or 30 successive days. EC President Jean-ClaudeJuncker reportedly ordered to withdraw the proposal after drawing flak from critics.

Meanwhile, earlier reports said roaming charges might berestored in theU.K. following its decision to step out of the EU.