We'll Just Tell You About the Problem

A few days ago I wrote about European reforms to address excessive mobile roaming charges. Well, the Australian response is detailed in the below infographic—we'll just tell you it's a problem.

IMR Infographic.png

From 27 September 2013 the Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) will be phasing in international mobile roaming consumer protections to combat bill shock, including:

> A notification via SMS to be sent to all consumers on arrival overseas, warning them that significantly higher charges for using roaming services may apply.

> Enabling customers to stop international roaming, at low cost, at any time—including from an overseas location.

> A notification to be sent via SMS to customers of service providers giving them pricing information for using a range of roaming services. These services include any that would normally be free in the domestic market, such as receiving a call on a mobile device.

> Spend management tools, including notifications in A$100 increments for data usage and notifications at 50, 85 and 100 per cent of included value, if a customer has purchased an included value travel package from their IMR service provider.

I think I prefer the European response where they are actually doing something about the cost, although warning consumers they're being extorted is at least something.

A link from the announcement does go on to say the Australian and New Zealand governments have recognised "telecommunications companies are stinging consumers on trans-Tasman mobile roaming charges" and are considering steps to "put downward pressure" on the costs. But unfortunately it's only consideration and not action (although this acknowledgement was from August 2012, so hopefully something may have progressed from it).

With the current excessive charges associated with international roaming usage, it seems pretty clear market forces alone can't fix this problem. As a consequence, I for one hope that Governments do take action to regulate in this area. Whether we need to be as attached to our mobile devices as we are, they are a part of our daily lives, and even more useful/valuable when we are travelling.