AMTA Roaming

MEDIA RELEASE

 
Mobile phone industry to work with Federal Government to improve consumer awareness of mobile roaming charges
 
August 23, 2012
The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) acknowledges today’s announcement of measures to raise consumer awareness about the costs of international mobile roaming (IMR) and will work with the Federal Government on a range of new approaches, including options to enhance information targeting Australian consumers travelling overseas.
 
AMTA Chief Executive Officer Chris Althaus said: “Many aspects of today’s announcement by the Government of a strong focus during the next 12 months on enhancing consumer awareness of IMR charges are already reflected in measures which are being pursued by the mobile telecommunications industry to ensure customers have information on potential costs of international roaming.
 
“However we hear the Minister’s message that we need to do better.
 
“The industry is committed to increasing its efforts working with the Government to find better ways to ensure greater transparency about the potential costs and options for effective use of mobile devices while travelling overseas, where consumers are reliant on partnerships between local and overseas networks to maintain contact with home.”
 
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, along with his New Zealand counterpart, Amy Adams MP, today announced steps to provide consumers with better information on costs along with consideration of bilateral roaming arrangements between Australia and NZ and commencement of work on an Australian standard under the auspices of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
 
Mr Althaus said the mobile telecommunications industry would carefully look at today’s release and draft joint Australia-New Zealand IMR report and make a submission in response.
 
ABS figures last year show that nearly 8 million Australians travelled overseas and statistics from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman show there were 2584 complaints about roaming issues in 2010-11. There were 1053 in the first three months of 2012.
 
Mr Althaus said: “International Mobile Roaming can be expensive because Australia is a small player on the world stage and has to negotiate bilateral deals with carriers in much larger markets.
 
“Different rules apply overseas because Australian carriers are price takers in those markets.
 
“However, there are many options to consider in this quite complex market, but the consumer clearly needs to receive key cost information and be made aware of processes to opt-in or opt-out of IMR services.
 
 “Much of this information already exists, but again, we hear the Government’s message that we need to do a better job of informing the customer.”
 
Mr Althaus said the industry had worked extensively with the Government on the new Telecommunications Protection (TCP) Code, which will significantly upgrade information to consumers, including roaming, and it is important that any new initiatives did not duplicate the new Code.
 
“Travellers should check with their carrier and find information on their websites about roaming before they leave Australia. Mobile telecommunications are so much a part of life these days that communication arrangements overseas should be part of travellers’ top checklist items before travelling – eg: health insurance, passport and mobile phone arrangements,” he said.
 
Mr Althaus said carriers currently provide customers with a range of self-help tools to allow them to monitor their charges and usage as well as providing advice on alternative communication options while travelling overseas. 
 
Industry would review these options as part of the process announced today and look for improvements and additions.
 
Mr Althaus said: “It is nobody’s interest to have consumers racking up huge debts through use of mobile IMR services, particularly if they are not aware of the costs at the outset and this will be a major focus for industry.
 
“We think awareness and preparation are the keys when people are travelling.”
 
See AMTA consumer tips on roaming at www.amta.org.au
 
 For more information contact Randal Markey, Communications Manager, (02) 6239 6555 or 0421 240 550