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Telecom NZ introduces flat data rates for roamers

Telecom New Zealand customers travelling overseas will now just pay a flat daily rate for data usage, aimed at curbing global-roaming bill shock.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Telecom New Zealand has announced that, as of December 21, 2012, customers will have a simplified global-roaming charge rate that will dramatically cut the costs for using data while overseas.

The rates for post-paid customers start at NZ$6 per day for data if travellers are visiting Australia or Christmas Island, or NZ$10 per day for the US, UK, Canada, China, Macau, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia. For the rest of the world, the rate varies between NZ$2.50 per megabyte to NZ$5 per megabyte, but the company said that this still represents an 83 to 92 percent cut in the cost for using data overseas.

Calling from Australia is also 35 percent cheaper, and from the rest of the world, it is up to 50 percent cheaper.

The telco has a "fair use" policy attached to the rate, however, and customers who exceed the average daily data use will be given one warning, and if they exceed this amount again, Telecom NZ has said that it may suspend that user's account.

Telecom NZ's new CEO Simon Moutter, who returned to the company after a stint as the CEO of Auckland International Airport, said that global roaming charges was one of the issues he wanted to fix when he took on the role.

"We know data roaming charges have been a pain-point for customers — personally, it was a real bugbear of mine as a customer before I joined Telecom earlier this year. A flat fee provides certainty, and puts an end to concerns about nasty bill shocks on your return home."

"It's also much simpler to follow than any usage-based system — as most customers don't really know how quickly their phone apps will chew through 1MB, 10MB, or 100MB."

CEO of Telecom NZ Retail Chris Quin tweeted that the company had negotiated 30 roaming deals since October to secure the arrangement.

Moutter said there was a financial risk associated with the flat rate, but he that said it was a risk worth taking.

"We've being negotiating hard on new wholesale deals with overseas telcos that underpin our new pricing. At the same time, we've had to make assumptions on how customers' data use behaviour might change under the flat-fee approach."

ZDNet has asked Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone whether they plan to offer similar deals for Australians.

Last week, it was revealed that a Telstra customer, who had his phone stolen in Barcelona, was facing an AU$27,853 bill from Telstra for the use of the phone in the 36 hours before Telstra blocked his SIM. The company has subsequently promised to refund the bill.

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