Ever get a nasty bill after a holiday? Well, Stephen Conroy has declared war on romaing and is hatching a plan to chop extortionate charges across the ditch.
Minister for Broadband, Communications and his New Zealand counterpart Amy Adams MP, today released a draft report that says telcos are making “excessive” profits from trans-Tasman mobile roaming charges.
Both governments are now considering their options and whether or not to put “downward pressure” on mobile prices, or even force telcos like Optus, Telstra et al to scrap the extortionate roaming charges altogether.
The “options” open to the governments include improving pricing transparency of roaming charges or allow roamers to become local end-users, so they are charged local instead of overseas mobile prices.
The radical change could be in place within twelve months and means Ausies and Kiwis who use their mobile while travelling across the ditch know exactly what it will cost.
Unbundling roaming services so people can use one network for domestic communications and a different network for trans-Tasman roaming and introducing price caps are the other proposals put forward by the report.
Minister Conroy is now directing the Australian Communications and Media Authority to put in place an industry standard for mobile roaming, so consumers are aware of the precise charges.
“The draft report makes it clear that telecommunications companies are stinging consumers on trans-Tasman mobile roaming charges and that their profit margins are excessive,” Minister Conroy said.
“While this report focuses on travellers between Australia and New Zealand, we know that high mobile roaming charges affect Australians in every country they visit.”
“One of the most common complaints that I hear is from people who return from overseas and are confronted by a mobile phone bill that runs into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Consumers are angry about the excessive charges and about not knowing how much they are being charged,” he added.
The Australian and New Zealand governments are now seeking submissions on the draft report from consumers, the telecommunications industry, and other stakeholders, which will inform the response adopted.