Australian regulator moves forward to prevent “bill shock”

Only yesterday, TelecomsTech posted a wonderful article by Matt Hooper on “bill shock” and how mobile operators should take more responsibility to help prevent it, well Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) regulator clearly heard.

So what preventive measures will soon be in place to help Australians roaming abroad from returning to huge fees, and therefore the dreaded “bill shock”?

First of all, the new International Mobile Roaming (IMR) standard will require providers to provide certain opt-out features; as well as SMS alerts and spend management tools.

Part of the SMS alerts is to help promote forewarning as ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman states: “Forewarned is certainly a major part of being forearmed.”

It does however beg two questions; firstly, why were these measures not implemented sooner? Secondly, how long before regulators of international carriers follow suit?

Chapman continues: “The standard extends the information which suppliers must make available to Australian consumers under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code. They will now receive similar information when they travel overseas and use roaming services.”

The TCP code, as TelecomsTech readers will remember, was revised this time last year in an attempt to give consumers “materially greater protection” from billing hikes and poor customer services.

Anyone who’s ever been a victim would be grateful to receive this same level of protection in their home country, and pressure should be placed on carriers to provide.

The new standard will roll out beginning 27 September 2013, and consist of four initial measures:

  • A notification will be sent using SMS providing pricing information for using a range of roaming services. Including any which would normally be free, such as receiving a call on a mobile device.
  • Notifications in A$100 increments for data usage as well as notifications at 50, 85 and 100 per cent of included value, if a customer has purchased an included value travel package from their IMR service provider.
  • A pre-warning notification via SMS on arrival overseas, warning higher charges for using roaming services may apply.
  • Enabling customers to opt-out from roaming, at low cost, at any time; including from an overseas location.

What do you think about these new preventive measures? Should they be made available internationally?

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