Accurate up-to-date information needed for international roaming charge inquiry, says industry

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) today criticised a KPMG report commissioned by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy for a Parliamentary inquiry into international mobile roaming charges.

AMTA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Althaus, welcomed the opportunity to participate in the House of Representative’s Inquiry on International Mobile Roaming. However, he stressed it must be based on the latest accurate information and robust methodology.

“The industry welcomes the opportunity for an open and transparent review of roaming charges, but the inquiry must be based on solid facts – not errors, methodological flaws and limited data collection, which will produce a misleading picture,” he said.

Mr Althaus said the industry had great concerns about the limitations and accuracy of the KPMG report and was very disappointed that key industry members had not been sufficiently consulted to ascertain the facts.

“The mobile telecommunications industry is understandably very concerned that a very limited analysis of this kind must be read with a full understanding and clear disclosure of the constraints of its information sources and the conclusions heavily qualified to avoid a totally misleading impression of the actual situation.”

Mr Althaus said AMTA, on behalf of its members, was concerned about claims in the KPMG report, including:

  • Wholesale costs – KMPG says the average retail price per minute for an Australian SIM cardholder roaming overseas is $2.75. It calculates that the wholesale cost to be 46 cents or 17% of the retail price. This is incorrect and KPMG should have looked at the 2005 ACCC Report, which found the wholesale costs were as much as 75% of the retail price.

  • Pricing – Mobile charges quoted in the report do not represent an accurate picture of the actual charges paid by customers who use roaming while travelling overseas because they neglect special roaming rates offered for calls made and received on networks in major destinations. Furthermore, the report fails to take into account the most recent range of international roaming packages form carriers that offer significant price reductions to customers.

  • Sampling – The report relies on biased and selective samples of roaming rates in selected countries and fails to give a realistic picture of rates in a range of countries. For example, the report includes rates for all carriers in Portugal, however, only three carriers in the United Kingdom and only one in Thailand and Spain are included. This is a sampling error and misrepresents the available rates.

  • Charge comparisons – The report compares average consumer charges for roamed and non-roamed calls and uses it to make headline statements about Australian international roaming charges. The report compares the average cost of calling an international destination with the average cost of calling from the destination back to Australia. This is like comparing apples with oranges.

The industry intends to participate in the House of Representatives Inquiry and will be making submissions accordingly based on the latest industry information.

For more information contact Randal Markey, AMTA, (02) 6239 6555 or 0421 240 550