Australian and NZ govs want cheaper mobile roaming prices

Mobile roaming costs between Australia and New Zealand are set to drop following an investigation by both country's governments

The Australian and New Zealand governments are looking to exert pressure on telcos to reduce the cost of mobile roaming charges between the two countries.

A draft report released today found telcos are making excessive profit from mobile roaming charges between Australia and New Zealand, detailing a number of options the governments can take to reduce the charges.

“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,” Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, said in a statement.

Options for reducing mobile roaming costs in the report include improving pricing transparency; using legislation to allow roamers to become local end-users, resulting in users being charged local costs instead of overseas mobile prices; and introducing wholesale and retail price caps.

Conroy has also called on the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to bring in industry standards around making mobile roaming charges more transparent.

“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,” Conroy said.

“I am, therefore, directing the Australian Communications and Media Authority 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.”

The Australian and New Zealand governments launched an investigation into the traffic and revenue data collected from operators in April 2011.

Both governments are now seeking public comment on the draft report, with a standard expected to be implemented within 12 months.

Submissions for comment close 27 September, 2012.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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