Peak telecommunications consumer body, The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), has endorsed the federal government’s bill to create a competitive global roaming market.
The legislation will allow the ACCC to investigate, and if necessary, act on wholesale global roaming prices between Australia and New Zealand, with the potential for similar agreements with other countries. This will have a positive impact on Australian consumers, businesses, and telcos, according to ACCAN.
In its submission to the Department of Communications Trans‐Tasman mobile roaming consultation, ACCAN said while roaming prices had recently dropped, Australian consumers are still paying too much to roam.
The Department’s research showed the price of data on most roaming plans was at least 30 times higher than on domestic plans. Recent ACCAN research revealed some consumers face roaming prices of $51.20 per MB of data.
“For years Australians have faced roaming prices that can sometimes cost more than their actual holiday,” ACCAN spokesperson, Mark Callender, said. “This is the best opportunity to make global roaming between Australia and NZ an affordable option for all travellers.”
Research suggests that the telcos could benefit from this agreement. 2011 ACMA stats reveal only three per cent of Australian consumers used roaming in the previous year, meaning Australian telcos are missing out on a giant slice of the global roaming market.
“Australians have had to avoid roaming with their provider due to the high costs. The Trans‐Tasman agreement could be a breakthrough, as it sets a precedent for similar agreements with other countries. We see this as a positive for both consumers and the telcos,” he said.
Australian businesses expanding into international markets would also benefit, as high cost was ranked as the biggest barrier to using roaming for both large and medium enterprises in a 2013 CCMI study.
“The high cost of roaming is a tremendous barrier for some businesses, where every cent makes a difference, let alone the thousands roaming sometimes costs,” Callender said.
Optus general manager of interconnect and economic regulation, Andrew Sheridan, recently stated the company acknowledged and accepted that roaming prices have been too high and that Optus supported the government’s overall approach to roaming.
ACCANsaid this agreement would also benefit smaller providers who currently have little choice but to pass on whatever prices the big carriers offer. Some smaller providers even recommend that their customers avoid roaming due to the high costs.