Govt prepares trans-Tasman mobile roaming law for Parliament

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Govt prepares trans-Tasman mobile roaming law for Parliament

Before June.

The Federal Government is planning to introduce legislation governing mobile roaming rates across Australia and New Zealand to Parliament before the end of June.

The move follows a joint February announcement by the prime ministers of both countries around regulation of mobile roaming rates across the Tasman. 

Joint action under the A/NZ Closer Economic Relations (CER) trade agreement will address the high cost of mobile roaming rates between the two countries through new powers for Australian and New Zealand regulators, prime ministers John Key and Julia Gillard said at the time. 

The legislation is proposed for introduction during Australian Parliament’s winter sitting, between May and June.

The Telecommunications (International Mobile Roaming) Bill involves amendments to telecommunications legislation to “clarify that international mobile roaming services are services that can be regulated where reciprocal arrangements apply with another country”. 

It will “implement coordinated action with New Zealand on measures to address the prices to consumers of trans-Tasman mobile roaming”. 

The move comes partly as a result of a joint report on roaming rates by Australia's department of broadband, communications and the digital economy (DBCDE) and New Zealand's ministry of business, innovation and employment (MBIE).

The report recommended regulators be given extra powers to intervene in the market, including the ability to apply price caps on services for individual telcos. 

Telcos across Australia and New Zealand would be obliged to provide customers with a local mobile service using the customer’s own phone number, eliminating the need for a new SIM card. 

In August last year, Communications minister Stephen Conroy signed the Australian Communications and Media Authority (International Mobile Roaming Industry Standard) Direction (No. 1) 2012.

The direction required the ACMA to make a standard under the Telecommunications Act 1997 within nine months forcing telcos providing international roaming services to implement specific consumer awareness measures.

The direction involves two minimum requirements:

  • All international roaming providers must give consumers information, upon arrival at an overseas location, about the changes applicable for the telco’s international roaming services at that location within 10 minutes; and
  • Allow the customers to decline using the international roaming services at any time while at that location.

The ACMA also has the power to include measures around allowing customers to manage and monitor the cost of their international roaming services. 

The ACMA has so far held two consultations on its draft standard. Submissions to the second consultation closed last Friday. 

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