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Global roaming mobile bill shock may be at an end

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roamingthumbThe days of coming back from an overseas holiday to a mobile bill inflated to thousands of dollars because of steep roaming charges may be at an end.

The federal government has announced a new international roaming standard that will give customers a clearer idea of what calls, texts and data will cost while they are overseas.

Operators have also been asked to provide usage alerts and information on how to switch off data roaming on their devices.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has called for mobile carriers to come clean on how they come up with their excessive global roaming fees.

ACCAN says without clear cost guidelines and transparency customers are unable to make a decision about their mobile service.

“The standard will not solve the underlying problem, which is that global roaming charges are still way too high and do not come close to reflecting the true cost of providing the service,” said ACCAN spokesman Asher Moses. 

“The excuse from providers that they are simply passing on the costs from international carriers is not convincing, as virtually zero transparency is provided as to how such exorbitant fees are derived.”

“Consumers have been gouged on roaming for far too long. When you think about the huge number of complaints that consumers have made about this you can only presume that the telcos are addicted to the massive profits derived from the global roaming rip-off.”
 

Complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman increased by around 70 per cent in 2011-2012 from the previous year.

Meanwhile a 2011 OECD report found Australia’s international roaming data charges are about $12 a megabyte – the third highest in the world after Chile and Japan.

When travelling with their mobiles, consumers are advised to either buy a SIM card when they arrive at their destination or buy a pre-paid travel SIM before they leave the country.

Another option would be to carefully monitor your international roaming charges.

Alternatively travellers are advised to use wi-fi hotspots to access the web, check email and make international calls using data with apps like Viber, Skype and FaceTime.

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