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Government

Is global roaming a diplomatic no-go zone?

Most of the time, we think pretty globally. We can pop off to Europe for a holiday or sell our products in the US or China. We love to think big, because the world's small. But with mobile roaming, the world seems much bigger than anyone guessed.
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Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor on

Most of the time, we think pretty globally. We can pop off to Europe for a holiday or sell our products in the US or China. We love to think big, because the world's small. But with mobile roaming, the world seems much bigger than anyone guessed.

Australia and New Zealand announced earlier this year that they would investigate whether regulation was required to get prices to reasonable levels.

However, I read this morning that the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trading were investigating whether the introduction of regulation in the form of price caps for mobile roaming fees would actually harm trade agreements with the US and pacific countries. This makes me think that the investigation won't mean a whole lot, unless Australia gets more countries involved.

I do understand the need for international free trade agreements, but surely it's in everyone's interest — Australians, Americans, Swedes, Indians, Chinese or whoever — to be able to travel and access the internet conveniently and cheaply on their phone wherever they are.

Because in the end, it's really the business travellers who are hurting here. Those of us travelling for one trip will probably buy a SIM and then throw it away afterwards. But for business use, you probably want to be contactable on your usual phone, and you want your mobile internet service to be convenient and not involve juggling SIMs.

Why should we put a halter around the productivity of our jet-setting traders?

If we can work out global standards for other products, can't we look into the real costs of global roaming and come up with a sensible scheme?

I applaud the New Zealand and Australian governments for getting together to look at the rip off that is roaming. Europe is also attempting to bring down prices via the use of caps. Perhaps this is something that needs to be considered on a wider scale.

Instead of world peace, we could fight for world connectivity.

Let's make it a small world after all.

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