Thursday, June 19, 2008

Australia - interntional roaming

Govt to probe mobile roaming charges

THE federal Government has ordered an investigation to ascertain whether Australian consumers are paying too much to use their mobile phones when overseas.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has ordered the House of Representatives standing committee on communications to look into whether retail tariffs for international mobile roaming charges continue to reflect costs born by carriers.

Senator Conroy told telecommunications ministers at a meeting convened by APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Communities) earlier this year that the cost of mobile roaming services was becoming excessive for consumers and small businesses.

“For individuals and small businesses, international roaming charges are the subject of growing complaints where prices are so high as to discourage the use of mobile phones (roaming) in the APEC region," Seantor Conroy said.

"This issue deserves attention particularly as mobile data services grow and businesses come to rely even more on cross-border access."

The committee will follow-up on an inquiry carried out by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in 2005 which found that carriers may be charging excessively high prices for international mobile roaming services.

At the time the ACCC said that consumers were being squeezed by anti-competitive features of the market including lack of consumer information and alternatives.

In a statement released today, however, the committee said "a technology driven environment such as mobile telephony, a lot can change in three years."

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