Telecom has made it cheaper for consumers to check emails and internet sites in popular overseas destinations as the Government continues with an investigation into the mobile roaming market.

The telco has announced new prices for mobile data usage in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, offering 100 megabytes (MB) for $100.

Customers will be charged $8/MB for the first 12.5MB of data, with the remaining balance free for the rest of the billing month.

Previously customers would have paid between $8/MB and $10/MB in Australia or $10/MB to $15/MB in the United Kingdom.

But prices remain many times higher than consumers pay for data on smartphones locally and the issue has been on the Government radar since the middle of the year.

Yesterday the Ministry of Economic Development confirmed that a joint investigation with its Australian counterparts was ongoing.

It has been investigating operator revenues, market developments and has undertaken consumer surveys aimed at establishing whether consumers are paying over the odds to use their phones when they cross the Tasman.

An initial report on the transtasman market by government agencies in New Zealand and Australia has found we are getting reasonable features and services roaming between the two countries, but prices are relatively high and it is hard for consumers to figure out what is behind the high prices.

A subsequent survey of travellers returning from Australia conducted by the ministry found many unsure of what they were paying for and how much it cost to use their mobile overseas.

Having targeted small and medium business owners in a follow-up survey, the ministry has plans to question corporate travellers crossing the Tasman for business.

It is trying to establish if roaming services and cost are a factor in businesses choosing a mobile provider, how aware consumers are of roaming prices, how people used their phone when overseas and if they are using alternatives to calling on their mobiles.

TELECOM
Local: prices start at 2c/MB
Australia: $1/MB*
United Kingdom: $1/MB*
United States: $1/MB*
*$8/MB for first 12.5MB, remaining 87.5MB free.
VODAFONE
Local: prices start at 1.7c/MB
Australia: $5/MB
United Kingdom: $10/MB
United States: $10/MB

2DEGREES
Local: prices start at 1.2c/MB
Australia: $30/MB
United Kingdom: $30/MB
United States: $30/MB