Investigation launched into trans-Tasman roaming

Analysis of operator revenues finds market failure between countries

The Australian and New Zealand federal governments have flagged possible regulatory intervention into the trans-Tasman mobile roaming market, pending a review into competition in the area.

The formal investigation, announced at the Korea-Australia-New Zealand (KANZ) Broadband Summit 2011 in Hobart this week, will be headed by communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, in Australia and New Zealand ICT Minister, Steven Joyce. The two ministers are expected to come to a decision as to whether to intervene on the issue by early next year.

“Many New Zealanders take their mobile phone, tablet or laptop with them when they travel to Australia,” Joyce said in a statement. “They need to have confidence that they are purchasing services in a competitive market.

The investigation was announced after the governments received traffic and revenue information from operators in the two countries following a discussion paper released in May last year on the issue.

At the time, Joyce pointed to a potential market failure and lack of transparency as a cause for high pricing when travelling between the two countries.

“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,” he said.

The paper indicated a wish to create a cross-country market that would effectively blur the boundaries between countries in the mobile phone market.

Joyce this week said the information made it clear an investigation and possible intervention was required.

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