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Government acts to stop high mobile roaming charges


roamingthumbThe Australian and New Zealand Government are joining forces to take action against telecommunications companies charging excessive mobile roaming charges.

We’ve all heard the horror stories – travellers returning from overseas trips after using their mobiles for calls and data only to find a bill that runs into the thousands.

Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy along with New Zealand Minister for Communications and Information Technology have completed a joint investigation which revealed something many mobile phones users know already – telcos are stinging customers for using their mobiles overseas.

A draft report was released with suggestions for a number of options to reduce the high mobile roaming charges including:

* Improving price transparency

* Allowing travellers to become local users so they are charged local rates instead of higher mobile charges.

* Create roaming services with one network for domestic use and another network for Trans Tasman services.

* Introduce wholesale and retail caps.

“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 Conroy said.

“New Zealanders have started to enjoy lower roaming prices recently, and the draft report shows that the pressure created by our joint investigation has been a key factor in this reduction,” Minister Adams said.

The Australian and New Zealand governments will now ask for submissions from customers and the mobile providers themselves.

But Senator Conroy concedes that while the report deals with the roaming charges between Australia and New Zealand, the greater problem lies when Australians visit other countries and return with huge bills.

“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.” Senator Conroy said.

“They are angry about the excessive charges and they are angry about not knowing how much they are being charged in the first place.

“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 draft report prepared by the Australian and New Zealand governments can be found here.

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