• Intra-EU, cross-border calls capped at 19 cents per minute, 6 cents for text messages 
  • Suitable radio spectrum for 5G available by 2020 
  • Obligatory mobile phone alert system for emergencies (“reverse 112”) 

MEPs have approved the telecoms package that caps intra-EU calls, makes super-fast 5G networks possible by 2020 and creates alert system for emergencies.

The European Parliament on Wednesday confirmed the provisional agreement reached with the Council of Ministers in June on the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) with 584 votes to 42 and 50 abstentions, and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communication (BEREC) with 590 votes to 63 and 23 abstentions.

The new rules will offer citizens high-speed connectivity and make calls secure and affordable within the EU, while providing the necessary predictability for telecom operators to boost investments in high-speed internet.

Lower prices, higher speed and better security for smart phone users

The Roam Like at Home policy put an end to roaming fees in 2017. The new legislation caps calls to another EU country at 19 cents and at 6 cents for text messages (SMS) from 15 May 2019, making it affordable for everyone to stay in contact with loved ones in other EU member states.

It also protects smartphone users better, including users of web-based services (Skype, WhatsApp, etc.) and strengthens security requirements, including encryption. It introduces the right to retain a telephone number for up to one month after a contract has terminated and the right to a refund of unused pre-paid credit upon contract termination, as well as compensation in the case of delay in or abuse of switching.

Finally, member states will have to facilitate the rollout of 5G, by making suitable spectrum available by 2020, in order to reach the objective of the "EU 5G Roadmap" of having a 5G network in at least one major city in each EU country by 2020".

A “reverse 112”

If there is a major emergency or disaster, affected citizens must be alerted by SMS or mobile apps. Member states will have 42 months to put the system in place after the directive comes into effect.

More predictability for telecom operators

In order to reach the necessary level of investment in infrastructure and 5G networks to achieve connectivity needs, the new legislation offers improved predictability for investment and promotes risk and cost-sharing among telecom operators.

Quotes

Pilar del Castillo Vera (EPP, ES) said “The Code gives operators a more predictable investment environment, which is crucial to develop 5G communications”.

Dita Charanzová (ALDE, CZ) added “Cheaper phone calls are a victory for all EU citizens and the Code provides increased protection for all EU consumers”.

Evžen Tošenovský (ECR, CZ) added: "The new rules governing BEREC will enable it to take on the new responsibilities with which it has been entrusted by the new telecom rules”.

Next steps

Following Council´s final approval, member states will have two years to adopt national legislation to implement the directive. Price caps will come into effect on 15 May 2019.