The lack of public transparency around the prices charged for mobile roaming between Australia and New Zealand is leading to ‘bill shock’ for consumers, a new industry discussion paper claims.
The Trans-Tasman mobile roaming paper, put together by the Ministry of Economic Development in New Zealand, and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy in Australia, is seeking public and industry comment on this as it seeks to address what is believed to be a degree of market failure on mobile roaming.
“The prices appear to be above, and the pricing transparency and consumer awareness below, those which might prevail in a competitive market,” the paper reads.
“The retail analysis undertaken by the [government] Agencies provides some evidence of market failure… However, more information and further analysis is required for the Agencies to conclude that this is indeed the case. “
The departments are calling on the public and industry to express their views on trans-Tasman roaming charges and the provide feedback on whether other services are suitable substitutes for mobile roaming.
The paper also claims that, despite the massive uptake of mobile devices in both countries, the issue of mobile roaming fees have received little examination, with no regulator or government agency in Australia or New Zealand previously considering the trans-Tasman mobile roaming market in detail.
“Increasingly, the ability to communicate regardless of location is seen as an essential business tool and a necessity for individual travellers," the paper reads.
“International mobile roaming (IMR) customers within Australia and New Zealand have raised concerns about the quality and charges of services provided to them, and some operators have raised concerns about the wholesale prices they face in the trans-Tasman market.”
On top of reducing the cost of mobile roaming charges, the departments said that resolving roaming issues also played an important role in facilitating a ‘single economic market’.
“The concept of a trans-Tasman Single Economic Market first emerged at government-to-government level in 2004,” the paper reads. “Ultimately, the long-term aim is to have a seamless trans-Tasman business environment in which it is as easy for Australian and New Zealand companies to do business in the other country as it is at home.
“This will enhance the ability of Australia and New Zealand to increase national productivity, maintain and drive job creation and foster international competitiveness.” The report can be viewed online.