The European Parliament is set to adopt a major reform of EU telecoms rules on Wednesday to increase consumer protection, competition and investment in new networks.
EU Telecoms Commissioner, Viviane Reding, who drafted the reform, said it would have a big impact on two ways.
The first one is by getting rid of the last barriers of fragmentation in the EU telecoms market and reinforcing competition in the telecoms industry, Reding told reporters.
It also gives new rights to users and reinforces their rights in the Internet world, Reding said.
The reform updates existing EU telecoms rules that were drawn up before the big surge in broadband, Wifi and mobile phone usage as the bloc's 495 million citizens increasingly operate in a digital world.
Consumers will get stronger, clearer rights when it comes to contracts they sign with telecom operators.
Privacy will also be protected such as by forcing Websites to notify an user before it places a cookie on a person's computer, a step industry groups challenged.
Cookies make Internet browsing easier by allowing a server to recall any customized information you have set, the Business Software Alliance said.
By requiring excessive over-notification of Internet users, the proposal would more likely than not cause users to simply ignore the notices, the BSA said.
Others said the reform strikes the right balance between consumer and operator rights.
This decision will go a long way to maintaining strong competition, enhancing innovation and encouraging investment in super-fast broadband; given the spluttering global economy, few investments offer greater economic potential than expanding broadband access, said Martin Cave, a professor of telecoms economics at Warwick University in Britain.
Another core aim is also to ensure that telecoms rules are applied consistently across the 27-nation bloc so that national regulators can withstand any political pressures to shield a national operator from competition.
A new telecoms regulatory body is created that can take decisions by majority voting.
Regulators will also get new tools to prize open markets to competition, such as forcing an operator to separate its network and services arms or share infrastructure.
Operators like Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica have said this goes too far and may threaten industry investment plans.
The sector has been facing increased regulation.
Last month, the bloc adopted a law to cap the price of making a roamed voice call on a mobile phone while traveling outside a home state in the EU. It will take effect in July and include caps on roamed data downloading and texting.
Reding said the Commission will on Thursday adopt guidelines for telecoms supervisors in EU member states to bring down the call routing fees mobile phone companies charge each other for completing a call outside their own network.
Reding believes the guidelines, although non-binding, will ultimately lead to cuts in consumer tariffs.
(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Andrew Macdonald)