Excessive trans-Tasman roaming charges slammed

Excessive trans-Tasman roaming charges slammed

ACMA told to put in place an industry standard for mobile roaming

Telecommunication companies are making excessive profits from trans-Tasman mobile roaming charges, according to a joint government draft report.

The investigation by the Australian and New Zealand governments has provided several options for both to consider to put downward pressure on mobile prices, and so that Australians and New Zealanders who use their mobile phone when travelling between our countries know what it will cost.

“The draft report makes it clear that telecommunications companies are stinging consumers on trans-Tasman mobile roaming charges and that their profit margins are excessive,” Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy said.

“New Zealanders have started to enjoy lower roaming prices recently, and the draft report shows that the pressure created by our joint investigation has been a key factor in this reduction,” New Zealand Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Amy Adams, said.

The draft report provides a number of options to the Australian and New Zealand governments to curb trans-Tasman mobile roaming charges, including:

  • Improving pricing transparency
  • Using legislation to allow roamers to become local end-users, so they are charged local instead of overseas mobile prices
  • Unbundling roaming services so people can use one network for domestic communications and a different network for trans-Tasman roaming
  • Introducing wholesale and retail price caps

The governments are now seeking submissions on the draft report from consumers, the telecommunications industry, and other stakeholders, which will inform the response adopted.

“While this report focuses on travellers between Australia and New Zealand, we know that high mobile roaming charges affect Australians in every country they visit,” Senator Conroy said.

“One of the most common complaints that I hear is from people who return from overseas and are confronted by a mobile phone bill that runs into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars. They are angry about the excessive charges and they are angry about not knowing how much they are being charged in the first place.”

“I am, therefore, directing the Australian Communications and Media Authority [ACMA] to put in place an industry standard for mobile roaming so that consumers know exactly how much they will be charged when they make a phone call, send a text message, or surf the Internet, wherever they may be overseas.”

It is expected that the standard will be in place within 12 months.

The draft report, which was prepared by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, and New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation, is available from DBCDE’s website.

Submissions are invited on the joint Australia-New Zealand draft report by 27 September 2012.

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