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    Europe puts caps on key communication costs

    © Belga
    © Belga

    The European Parliament on Wednesday adopted a telecommunications package that limits the cost of telephone calls within the European Union (EU), makes ultra-fast 5G networks possible by 2020 and creates an early warning system for emergencies. The new measures come on the heels of a decision last year by the EU to abolish roaming costs, charged when mobile-telephone users travelled across borders within the Union.

    The new law regards mobile-telephone communications with other EU States: from 15 May 2019, it sets a ceiling of 19 euro cents per minute for calls and six (6) cents a minute for text messages.   

    The European Parliament approved the new accord that it had negotiated with the member States by an overwhelming majority. It still needs to be approved by the member States.

    The new legislation provides better protection for smartphone users, especially those who use online services such as Skype and WhatsApp, and tightens security requirements, particularly in terms of encryption.

    Further, it introduces the right to reimbursement of unused pre-paid credit at the closure of a contract to compensation for delays or abuses when changing service providers.  

    Member States will be required to facilitate the deployment of 5G by making the adapted spectrum available by 2020.

    Finally, in the event of an emergency or a catastrophe, the citizens concerned will now be able to receive warnings by SMS or through a mobile app.

    Once the directive takes effect, member States will have 42 months to implement it.

    Maria Novak
    The Brussels Times