Saturday, August 23, 2008

Australia - roaming

Industry groups slam mobile roaming report

MOBILE carriers have taken a united stand in condemning information in a report on mobile roaming charges commissioned by the Rudd Government as inaccurate and out-of-date.

The industry's peak representative body, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) has issued a statement berating the reports author, accounting firm KPMG, for neglecting to include consult carrier's for information when compiled its research.

The report, released yesterday by the federal Government yesterday prompted Communications Minister Senator Conroy to warn carriers that consumers unrest over charges for using their mobiles overseas had reached levels that warranted government scrutiny.

An AMTA spokesman described the document as "essentially a desktop report" containing questionable data.

"We believe it would have been far better if KPMG had contacted our members to check the accuracy or otherwise of data and at least get their views.

"We think it a reasonable proposition that the industry would have at least been consulted and asked for input into the report," the spokesman said.

In its report KPMG described roaming charges levied against Australian consumers as "unreasonably high".

Illustrating its point, it said that Australian travellers at the Olympics in Beijing could expect to pay up to $4.80 per minute to call home.

The report singled out Vodafone as the cheapest provider of the four major carriers offering calls for $1.86 per minute.

However, Vodafone Australia rejected the findings of the report. It said that the report ignored changes to international mobile voice and data pricing schemes the carrier had recently introduced – its Vodafone Traveller and Roaming Data Bundles.

"Vodafone rejects the KPMG report because it is selectively modelled on out-of-date information," the carrier said in a statement today.

Analyst group Ovum also urged the government not to overreact to the report.

It said that regulatory action would only serve to benefit offshore carriers to the detriment of their local counter parts.

It said the issue could not be negotiated on a unilateral basis.

"Let us hope that the Government does not decide to resolve this by implementing a Roam Watch to sit alongside the Fuel Watch and Grocery Watch initiatives," Ovum said.

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