Conroy calls for probe into mobile roaming rorts

Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy has ordered an inquiry into international mobile roaming charges, following attempts by the EU to regulate prices for cross-country calls.

Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy has ordered an inquiry into international mobile roaming charges, following attempts by the EU to regulate prices for cross-country calls.

The Commonwealth House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications announced the launch of the inquiry today into whether international mobile roaming charges are fair.

"For individuals and small businesses, international roaming charges are the subject of growing complaints where prices are so high as to discourage the use of mobile phones by people roaming in the APEC region," said Conroy in an address given at a recent APEC communications minister's conference in Thailand.

According to a statement, the inquiry will determine whether retail international roaming charges reflect the underlying cost of the service, whether the information available on costs is adequate and whether new technologies may reduce charges.

"This has been a really big issue in Europe for the last few years," said Robin Simpson, research director at analyst group, Gartner. "So I'm assuming that Senator Conroy's following up on that.

"It's certainly a big issue for business people, particularly when it comes to the cost of mobile data, which gets very, very expensive when charged over mobile roaming rates," he said.

Simpson believes that mobile roaming charges generate "a great deal of revenue" for the telcos involved, and identified operators in China as being most conscious of this, followed by Australia's Optus and its parent company Singtel.

"The fundamental problem is that most organisations don't understand the calling patterns of their employees … so they're really setting themselves up for a billing shock," he said.

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