back to article Australia threatens telcos with mobile roaming price laws

Australia and New Zealand are considering legislation to prevent mobile carriers gouging customers when they use their phones overseas. Australia's Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, and New Zealand's Minister for Communications and Information Technology Amy Adams MP (not the …

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I remember roaming in Africa over a decade ago. The rates were the local operator rate plus a margin - I think 20 or 25%. Since then the cost of international prices has plummeted while the cost of roaming has gone through the roof.

In country calls are typically priced at the same rate as international calls, and the pricing bears no resemblance to the actual costs incurred. For example, a vodafone user in the US making a local call has to pay £1.35 per minute. That's a markup of well over 1000%. International calls have always faced crazy pricing that is once again totally at odds with the wholesale cost.

It's pretty clear the free market isn't working to solve this problem. Good for the Australian government for forcing the operator's hands.

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Unhappy

What free market?

You're forgetting that telco is Australia is not a free market. Thanks to the government in the past these organisations have unreasonably large pieces of the telco pie.

Working in the telco sector (billing specifically) I can tell you that a lot of the smaller telcos have been trying to combat this issue but had to jump through Telstra's hurdles which made their efforts rather useless.

At least they are undoing some of their damage now by taking care of the market they so thoroughly screwed up.

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Anonymous Coward

Ditto for europe

I remember paying 25-30p a minute calling in/from Iceland and Italy, with the charges varying a little bit depending on which network I was using. At the time my UK contract was about 40p a minute. Soon after Cellnet (remember them?) 'simplified' my charges to only 99p a minute for europe.

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Anonymous Coward

Telco bashing

Given the frankly insane profits telco's are making versus the impact on an economy of improved communication I think there may not have been enough telco bashing..

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FAIL

Just another case of CYA

"For now, both nations want their mobile carriers to get cracking on a regime that would send TXT messages advising of roaming charges, along with an opt-out-from-roaming option, to their customers as soon as they touch down in a foreign land."

Despite all the headlines from the media about the gummint getting Telstra et al to cut roaming charges, all that's happening here is that Fred Traveller will get a text message telling him what horrendous charges will be incurred if he continues to use his phone after his/her arrival in $COUNTRY.

In other words, any bill shock is now firmly in the mobile user's court, "Because we told you how much it was going to cost and you still used your phone".

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Silver badge

Re: Just another case of CYA

It's known as jaw-boning in Australia or "all talk and no action" in the UK. Australian politicians have form on the matter. Make your big speech in the media proclaiming how you're going to sort things out for the little guy before settling down into your wing-back chair at an exclusive club being bought glasses of fine wine or cognac by those who you castigate. It's the way they roll. Australia, UK, anywhere - they're all trough feeding duplicitous f*cks.

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I cannot say for Australia, but here roaming tariffs are mostly derived from roaming agreements' prices. And if French GSM operators are unwilling to go below $10 per megabyte, there's nothing our companies or government can do (except launching own satnet over France).

But when there's demand and mutual will, roaming tariffs can go as low as $0.04 per megabyte (Ukraine-Turkey, Ukraine-Russia).

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Legislating against stupidity

So, you get a mobile phone on a contract. You sign the contract. The contract states that there are extortionate costs for using the service when overseas. You go on holiday and use the service and then come home and get “bill shock”. It’s the “I did not know, it’s not my fault, please nanny state, help me!” excuse.

Since when is this the telco’s fault? Admittedly, the charges are exorbitant, but this not the issue.

Stupid is as stupid does.

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Re: Legislating against stupidity

...Except that prices for international roaming are never *in* the contract. (Or the company would never be free to raise them.) They say, "They are on our web site, go look. Sign here please."

The point of the Aus/NZ govt. action is to get the telcos to be me transparent about the roaming pricing since more customers are travelling and expecting to be able to use phones overseas than in the past. Surely greater transparency is a good thing, right?

And not getting a $5000 bill for one day of phone use in Singapore is also a good thing right? A mother travelling to NZ from Aus for 2 weeks needing to keep tabs on medical situation for a child got a roaming bill of $6500 - I'm sure you agree this is excessive and that no amount of expectation of higher costs when travelling would include a bill of this magnitude?

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1000% profit

Is there any other company or organization being allowed a 300-1000% profit margin...other than the Mafia?

Come on.

This is a no-brainer for govt regulation to help protect consumers from extortion. (And note also that while you're roaming internationally, do you get a credit for 2 weeks of domestic non-use of voice or data? Heck no...! Nice racket, if you can get it.

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Conroy is a complete and utter idiot

He is often trotted out for a stunt like this whenever Queen Juliar gets herself in a spot of bother, which is to say, constantly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Conroy is a complete and utter idiot

One of the problems I have with the Internet is that there is no way weed out the comments of retarded wankers and other assorted oxygen thieves before reading them.

Thanks to people like Goat Jam, I can see "Juliar" being used and easily dismiss them and their opinions easily and efficiently. Thumbs up from this Reg reader.

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Re: Conroy is a complete and utter idiot

Dick.

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Re: Conroy is a complete and utter idiot

That was meant for Goat Jam

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Re: Conroy is a complete and utter idiot

A.C. Nice logic bomb!

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The hilarious thing is that (I beleive) the Commonwealth of Austrlia) (i.e. the federal govt) is the (10% or so) major shareholder in telstra - the largest telco in australia.

So if the minister really cared, he could just exercise his shareholder muscle.

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