Oz, NZ release draft agreement on cutting roaming charges

Price controls may be put in place to force telcos to offer products within a certain price range. Photo / Thinkstock
Price controls may be put in place to force telcos to offer products within a certain price range. Photo / Thinkstock

The Australian and New Zealand governments have teamed up to stop telcos on both sides of the Tasman from hitting travellers with excessive mobile roaming fees.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and New Zealand Communications Minister Amy Adams joined today to release a draft report that looks at ways to cut charges and improve transparency.

"The draft report makes it clear that telecommunications companies are stinging consumers on trans-Tasman mobile roaming charges and that their profit margins are excessive," Senator Conroy told reporters in Canberra.

The findings have already prompted the federal government to protect Australians travelling further abroad.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has been told to create an industry standard for mobile roaming so charges for call, text messages, internet surfing are transparent.

Senator Conroy said the standard should be in place within a year.

"One of the most common complaints that I hear is from people who return from overseas and are confronted by a mobile phone bill that runs into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars," he said.

Ms Adams said the draft report underpinned the importance of the trans-Tasman market.

"While we are travelling so freely ... it is important to both of our governments to know the New Zealanders and Australians have access to fair and reasonable pricing and be aware of what charges they will face," she told reporters.

The minister said when the work began on the report, New Zealanders were facing mobile data charges of around $30 per megabit but the price had now dropped to 50 NZ cents.

"There is clearly a lot of room for the industry to move," Ms Adams said.

"We have to continue to ensure that that sort of pressure stays on the industry."

The Australian and New Zealand governments are now seeking feedback on the draft report from the telecoms industry, ahead of formulating their final responses.

- AAP

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