The European Parliament today voted in favor of proposed reforms to end cellular roaming charges throughout the continent. Part of the “Connected Continent” changes, the proposal seeks to end roaming charges by Christmas 2015. The proposal was made in September last year and will greatly aid in creating a truly single market for telecommunication services. “Companies should have the chance to serve all of us,” said Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission that is behind this proposal.
There was a lot of debate over the net neutrality points. Before the vote a set of amendments were proposed which are aimed at preventing internet service providers from classifying certain web services as “specialized services.” This means that ISPs would have been able to treat those services differently than all internet traffic. Not all amendments were passed, but amended definitions of net neutrality and specialized services went through, as well as a point barring ISPs from discriminating between “functionally equivalent services and applications.”
European internet service providers will still have the option to strike deals with service providers to offer them better service. Netflix recently did that with Comcast, which started a whole new net neutrality debate at home. But the EU will not permit ISPs to leverage special deals for throttling regular internet traffic.
The proposal will now be sent to the next European Parliament, which will debate and vote. After that it would be sent to representatives of member countries to obtain a final approval.