ACMA calls for comment on international roaming

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ACMA calls for comment on international roaming

Updated: Technical feasibility of warning customers.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has cited concerns about a significant increase in complaints about international mobile roaming charges as cause for the introduction of an international mobile roaming standard.

According to recent figures from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, complaints about international roaming charges jumped 50 percent in 2010-2011, and a further 70 percent in 2011-12.

Several extreme examples involved customers being hit with bills in excess of $100,000 for international mobile roaming.

The draft roaming standard would require mobile carriers warn consumers when they are roaming, and provide country specific information about call and data costs.

The draft standard would also require telcos provide a low-cost way for consumers to decline services when overseas, and tools to monitor call and data costs when roaming.

However, a spokesman for the ACMA conceded the actual costs of roaming is a matter between carrier and its international partners.

“This call for comment on the draft standard is about the technical feasibility of providing those warnings to consumers,” he said.

Australia’s number two telco, Optus, told iTnews the company has “an international roaming alert system that notifies post-paid mobile customers when they are using data roaming on their handsets within approximately one hour of first usage.

"This system prompts customers to disable or stop using data roaming on their device to avoid further charges," a spokesperson said.

"For those customers who choose to keep using data roaming, Optus will notify the customer every 15MB of usage as a further measure to help customers keep control of their spend.”

Telstra and Vodafone had not responded to iTnews’ request for information at press time. 

Communications minister Stephen Conroy has also weighed into the kerfuffle about international roaming charges, accusing telcos of gouging customers when they're overseas. 

 

“These outrageous charges can result in someone returning home and finding that their mobile phone bill costs more than their holiday. It is unacceptable," he said in a statement. 

“The industry standard will be an important transparency measure. People will receive clear information about pricing, allowing them to better manage their spending and avoid bill shock."

Updated at 1545 on Dec 13 with additional comments from communications minister Stephen Conroy 

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