An agreement between the European Council and European Commission looks set to bring an end to ‘geo-blocking’ in the EU, meaning that citizens will be able to watch Netflix, enjoy Sky Sports and listen to Spotify while travelling.
‘Geo-blocking’ restricts access to certain content for consumers, based on their location. In December 2015, the European Commission recommended that the practice be brought to an end, but not much happened after that.
However, this week's new agreement means that all providers of paid services will have to allow customers to continue to enjoy their digital content while city-hopping around Europe. The proposed rule is likely to be implemented in 2018.
Providers of free digital content, such as RTÉ and BBC, will have the option to remove geo-blocking, but may not be forced to do so.
Last November, Netflix made it possible for customers to download content to their devices to watch offline. This move was particularly welcomed by frequent flyers, who can now squeeze in a quick binge on their favourite shows while waiting to board a flight home.
The end of geo-blocking will make it possible for all subscribers to simply stream their favourite movies and shows while abroad, just as they do at home.
Netflix currently has an estimated 200,000 customers in Ireland and Virgin Media is currently offering a free 6-month subscription to the service to all new broadband, TV and phone customers.
Football fans are likely to welcome the end of geo-blocking as well.
The Sky Sports app, which allows subscribers to watch goals, highlights and interviews from their mobile devices, will be accessible to customers even when they're on the go around the Europe.
eir is currently offering Sky Sports for €1 a month and free eir Sport to new customers.
With EU roaming charges set to be scrapped in June and geo-blocking on the way out, EU citizens will soon be able to avail of all the benefits of digital technology while travelling around the 28 member states.
It'll be interesting to see what role roaming charges and geo-blocking have in Brexit negotiations over the coming months.
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