The Telecommunications Users Association is welcoming the joint government action on trans-Tasman mobile roaming that was announced during a visit by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the weekend. The Commerce Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will collect and report regularly on wholesale and retail trans-Tasman mobile roaming services. Both commissions will also gain new powers to intervene in the market, for example by setting price caps, or obliging operators to offer local-access services that do not require a change of SIM card,” a statement from the ICT ministers office said yesterday. “While we initially pushed for a more comprehensive solution (unbundling of data roaming from the home provider so customers could buy data at local rates on arrival), we are happy with the monitoring and pricing solution put forward,” says TUANZ CEO Paul Brislen. “For the most part, New Zealand mobile providers have responded well to the governments’ initiative – it’s the Aussie telcos that are letting their customers down. New Zealand telcos have dropped the price dramatically and with Telecom’s new offer of a flat rate fee, customers can just carry on using their phones as they would at home with little chance of bill shock.” Brislen says at roaming rates of “$19/MB Australian travellers to New Zealand are still paying $19,000 for a gigabyte of data, something they can buy at home for around the $10 mark.” TUANZ wants to see any trans-Tasman solution extended to other jurisdictions as well. “Singapore and Hong Kong have both expressed an interest in it and the European Union would also be a logical step, but ultimately we’d like to see the concept of paying a roaming fee to use your phone disappear entirely, as is starting to happen inside Europe.” The new government powers were recommended in a joint report by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Australia’s Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
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