Optus retains sky high data roaming rates beyond Asia

The telco will launch unlimited data roaming plans across 11 Asian countries, however has still not negotiated cheaper pricing for other countries around the world

Optus has continued negotiations with international carriers to revamp higher-than-average data roaming fees from the country's second largest telco, lagging behind the forthcoming launch of new plans for selected Asian countries.

Optus was pegged earlier this month as the most expensive Australian mobile carrier for international data roaming behind Vodafone and Telstra in a study by <i>Australian Business Traveller </i>.

The telco has attempted to resolve the issue with forthcoming revamped data roaming plans for 11 countries across Asia, negotiated as part of its membership with telcos in those countries under the Bridge Alliance. The plans, yet to be announced, would bring pre-paid data roaming pricing down from current plans of 15 megabits for $40 per month, or 40 megabytes for $80 a month. The older plans have been available since 2009.

However, an Optus spokesperson told Computerworld Australia it was yet to definitively negotiate similar changes for countries not currently part of the Bridge Alliance..

The study by Australian Business Traveller indicated Optus charged a flat $20 per megabyte worldwide, while Telstra charge $15 and Vodafone $10. The 3 Network also charges $20 in most countries, but discounted its roaming service to 50c per megabyte in the UK, Hong Kong, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Denmark and Ireland.

The study also noted that despite an offer from Optus for a 20 per cent discount in 11 Asian countries, the telco’s service remained more costly than Telstra’s data roaming rates.

According to the study, the telcos do offer significant discounts for prepaid data roaming with the cheapest rate from Optus sitting at $9.09 per megabyte across the world, except for the 11 Asian countries in which charges are between $2 and $2.67. Telstra offers prepaid data roaming rates between $2.90 and $2.67, and Vodafone between $1.65 and $1.96.

Australian Business Traveller deputy editor, Dan Warne, said Optus appeared to be delaying the introduction of a new DataRoam Unlimited plan which would provide unlimited access for a flat daily fee across those 11 Asian countries, under its membership with the Bridge Alliance group.

Concerns over the data roaming rates between Australia and New Zealand recently prompted a joint investigation into the matter by the offices of Australian communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, and New Zealand ICT minister, Steven Joyce.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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