New standard aims to cut Aussie roaming bill shock

New standard aims to cut Aussie roaming bill shock

Summary: New mobile roaming standard targets "price gouging" for Australians travelling overseas.

SHARE:

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has outed new draft standards for global roaming that would require telcos to better inform consumers about the costs associated with using their mobile while overseas.

The draft standard released yesterday would require mobile carriers to alert customers when they are roaming, and provide specific information about the costs of calls and data in that country. The telcos must also advise customers on how to reduce their mobile use and provide tools to keep tabs on how much they are spending.

An Australian travelling abroad would receive two text messages when they switch on their phone overseas. The first would be sent within ten minutes of switching the phone on as a warning that extra charges apply, and the second, sent within an hour, would detail those charges and advise the customer on how to switch off roaming.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said yesterday that the standard would bring more transparency.

"Australian consumers are being price gouged by telecommunications companies every time they want to make a mobile call, send a text, or go online, when overseas," Conroy said.

"These outrageous charges can result in someone returning home and finding that their mobile phone bill costs more than their holiday. It is unacceptable," he said. "The industry standard will be an important transparency measure. People will receive clear information about pricing, allowing them to better manage their spending and avoid bill shock."

The ACMA is calling for comment on the draft standard, and aims to finalise the standard by May 23, 2013, but the authority noted that it doesn't have the power to regulate global roaming directly, and said that the Australian government was still reviewing how it could regulate the roaming industry itself.

It comes as the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman's (TIO's) latest statistics showed a rise in the proportion of complaints relating to roaming bill shock for bills over the amount of AU$5,000. In one case, a woman returned from a European trip and faced a bill of AU$147,908.

Telecom New Zealand also made moves to cut roaming bill shock for its customers this week, introducing a flat daily rate for data usage for customers travelling to a number of different countries, including Australia.

Topics: Telcos, Government, Government AU, Australia

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

2 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Good ole ACMA

    Yet more evidence ACMA are completely spineless. Seriously? A text message?! How about they show a backbone and force these companies to limit the seemingly endless line of credit they are willing to offer. Can't get a $5000 credit card, but I can happily rack up a mortgage sized bill?

    I'm all for people being responsible, but accidents happen and you can't reasonable expect someone to go into bankruptcy for leaving apps to update over another country's network...
    IzzehO
  • Stop Blaming The Telco's

    There are enough stories going on about roaming charges ever since the iPhone came out. How about people take some responsibility in READING before they travel overseas. It's laid out clearly on all there websites!

    I've dealt with roaming issues in the past with staff and no matter how many times you show and tell them the costs they ignore you. People expect everything to be handed to them on a spoon and won't follow the rules because it doesn't suit them.

    I'll be the first person to not generally side with a telco but in all honesty I think the consumer needs to accept responsibility for there inaction to do research BEFORE going overseas. You can't just play dumb and complain like a child to get out of paying because you were too lazy to visit there website.
    Heath_C