The ITRE committee vote in the European Parliament paves the way for a vote to the whole European Parliament on the 2nd to 3rd April 2014, with then the hope that once European elections in May are over that the next Parliament will enshrine the new rules into law.
The EU has imposed caps on the cost of roaming charges across Europe for some time and the move to abolish the roaming charges will be welcomed by the majority of people. Using your phone in Europe will simply use up minutes from your existing bundle or be charged at the out of bundle price you pay in your home country. The roaming charges are seen as a lucrative revenue stream, but there is a risk that by lowering the costs for some, that there may be incremental costs across the board, thus affecting those who never use their phone on a roaming network. If everything goes smoothly we can expect to see roaming charges vanish by December 2015.
The more controversial aspect of the vote is the approval of rules to protect net neutrality, i.e. the idea that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally. Which at the simplest level means, a mobile provider would not be allowed to block Skype on their mobile Internet service.
The big concern from many quarters now is that various loopholes that are very vague in their wording are currently in the new legislation and campaigns are taking place to counter the lobbying from the Telco industry that will of course act in the interest of their shareholders. The precise wording of any net neutrality legislation is important, as while many of the largest UK broadband providers have largely dropped traffic management, there are issues with how Quality of Service (QoS) parameters for IPTV services that are injected into a broadband connection are handled. Services such as Netflix does not use QoS on the broadband router, but does try to enter into agreements where its content is hosted within major providers networks, which may be seen as leaving smaller providers at a disadvantage.