Good news: free European data roaming is coming

The European Parliament has agreed to kill roaming charges in Europe by 2017 - and that matters for digital businesses across the continent.

As June ended, a new era began for digital Europe. A deal was struck that should change the way we think about digital services across the continent:

In the early hours of 30 June 2015, after 12 hours of negotiation, the Latvian presidency reached a provisional deal with the European Parliament on new rules to end mobile phone roaming fees and safeguard open internet access, also known as net neutrality rules. For the Council, the agreement still has to be confirmed by member states.

Why does this matter? Well, the multi-national, multi-lingual nature of Europe has always made it a more challenging environment for digital businesses than, for example, the USA. In America, users can freely roam across the country, using their phones at the same rate.

While the multi-lingual challenges remain for Europe, phone users will soon be able to freely use their mobile devices in other countries in much the same way as they do their home nation. My local provider in the UK – Three – has had a benefit called “Feel At Home”, which allowed me to use my phone as if I was at home in the US, Hong Kong and France last year (but not Germany, sadly). It changes a traveller’s attitude to phone use quite dramatically, and that’s got to be a good things for any business which is relevant to business or pleasure travellers as they move across Europe.

It’s one less barrier to European digital business achieving scale – and that’s something we should get excited about.