Optus, Vodafone call for repeal of roaming laws

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Optus, Vodafone call for repeal of roaming laws

Standard just legislating what they are 'already doing'.

Optus and Vodafone have called on the Australian Government to pull back regulation introduced less than a year ago that was designed to prevent overseas travellers incurring excessive roaming charges.

In submissions to the Department of Communication's public consultation on deregulation in the communications sector, both telcos urged minister Malcolm Turnbull to repeal the International Mobile Roaming Standard 2013, introduced in July 2013.

The standard forces telcos to warn customers via SMS of the higher charges faced when roaming overseas.

Telcos are also required to provide pricing information on their roaming services to customers via SMS, and notify users when they reach 50 percent, 85 percent and 100 percent of their roaming package value.

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone were required to comply with the new standard from September 27 last year.

In its submission to the public consultation, released today, Vodafone called the standard an "unnecessary burden" and said it was a strong-arm measure to force the company to comply measures it was already taking.

“The standard required that we deliver alerts we were already sending to customers and mandated spend management tools that were inferior to the arrangements we already had in place,” Vodafone said in its statement.

“The overly prescriptive requirements on what should be included in our ‘roaming alerts’ confuses our customers and this can result in increased call centre costs.”

Vodafone called on the government to substantially revise the "already redundant piece of regulation".

Optus, in its proposal, called for the government to remove a clause requiring telcos to allow customers to opt-out of international roaming while overseas.

“There is no need to add more prescriptive and costly obligations on the mobile sector that will not improve customer detriment but drive significant costs on the industry,” Optus said in its submission.

Optus also lobbied the Government to remove a clause due to come into effect in September 2014 which would force telcos to notify customers via SMS each time they spend $100 worth of data while roaming.

"The usage alert and spend management tool requirements in the second tranche of the IMR Standard are overly prescriptive and inconsistent with similar requirements in the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code, creating a great deal of complexity that will cost providers dearly to implement," the submission said.

Late last year Vodafone launched a new global roaming offering to allow customers on its Red plans to access the same calls, text and data when travelling overseas for an additional $5 per day, in an effort to combat bill shock.

Earlier last year, Optus announced it would cap global roaming charges at $500 per month.

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