Aus, NZ investigate roaming rip-offs

Australia and New Zealand have begun formal investigations into the mobile roaming services provided by telco providers.

Australia and New Zealand have begun formal investigations into the mobile roaming services provided by telco providers.

Steven Joyce (Credit: NZ Government)

In May last year, NZ ICT Minister Steven Joyce, and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, released a discussion document that suggested that there might be a case for a full market investigation into TransTasman roaming services.

Joyce said today, while speaking at the Korea-Australia-New Zealand (KANZ) Broadband Summit, that after allowing time for the market to show what it could do, as well as analysing submissions to the discussion paper and traffic and revenue information, the ministers had decided that an investigation was required.

"On the basis of what we have seen, we remain concerned that there may be a lack of competition in the provision of TransTasman roaming services," Joyce said.

The investigation will help the ministers decide whether competition has failed.

"If we find that it has, regulation will be considered," Joyce said.

The investigation will be conducted by New Zealand's Ministry of Economic Development (MED) and Australia's Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. The governments will outline their conclusions on the state of competition and possibly action plans for comment before a final decision is made in early 2012.

He said that the ministers had considered carefully whether such an investigation should be held, because of the opportunity cost of such an undertaking.

"A full market investigation is no small thing. It diverts resources both from governments and from operators."

However, he believes it is necessary, and said that the world would be watching the investigation.

"Roaming markets have been analysed abroad, but typically in regions with supranational authorities, such as the European Union and the [Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf]. Today we are announcing something different: the launch of a joint investigation by two independent countries. I think governments abroad will be watching to see how we go."

The majority of respondents to a ZDNet global survey spanning 1300 people believed that carriers charge way too much for global roaming and would like to see costs cut by 60 per cent or more.


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