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Telcos warned to cut trans-Tasman roaming rate

Published: 6:37PM Saturday February 09, 2013 Source: ONE News

John Key and Julia Gillard have warned mobile phone providers on both sides of the Tasman to reduce roaming rates further or face government intervention.

The move was tipped by ONE News last night ahead of today's annual talks between the two prime ministers.

A mobile phone is the must-have item for New Zealanders travelling across the Tasman and for Australians who visit this country in their millions.

But for every text, call or photo sent, there's a holiday hangover, as traveller Kyle Winder found after his trip to Australia.

"I think they charged me like $20 a megabyte or something like that and they didn't tell me and I got back and got shoved with like a $400 bill," he told ONE News.

Another traveller, Toni Mason-Kaipuke, said a text from overseas cost her probably $1 and the cost of phone calls on global roaming is "ridiculous".

And it is not just holidaymakers dialling up extra dollars while overseas.

"It's obviously a problem for businesspeople too who are routinely travelling between the two countries, needing to access mobile phones," Gillard said.

While some telcos have significantly reduced roaming rates, the Australian Prime Minister says there is still room for prices to fall further.

Gillard is warning telcos on both sides of the Tasman to comply.

"Ultimately, if we don't see reductions in these kind of charges, we will empower our competition regulators to act and to intervene in the market to get people a better deal," she said.

Part of that arrangement will see both governments requiring annual reporting and greater transparency from telcos about their roaming costs.

For travellers bound for Brisbane it's too little too late.

"That would be awesome if they could do that. But until then I'll be switching over when I get over [to Australia]," said Mason-Kaipuke.

Winder said: "Bring the prices down 'cause they're making a killing off us all. Everyone's paying top dollar."

And until then, he will continue to roam for a better deal.