Good to not be an Aussie

By Paul Brislen, TUANZ, New Zealand

Data roaming is the story of the week on both sides of the Tasman and rarely has the divide between our two nations been so evident.

Over here we have Telecom’s announcement that it will be introducing a flat fee for on account customers roaming to Australia (a $6/day introductory offer) and to UK, US, China and a host of others for $10/day.

The approach is simple – pay the one off fee and just keep using your phone in the way you usually do and that’s all you’ll pay. Data will, presumably, continue to come off your existing bundle but so long as you don’t go crazy, you can carry on regardless.

This model is fantastic. It means as a traveller I can just do what I normally do without worrying about it all. No more wondering if I should check that email, or glance at Twitter. No more worrying about finding a wifi hotspot to I can use GPS – just get on with it.

Now compare that with Australian travellers who still face the most astonishingly arrogant telcos who see no value in allowing customers to pay an appropriate amount. The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has revealed at least one customer got a roaming bill of nearly A$150,000 for a trip to Italy. Sure, it was reduced to “only” A$1147 but this is a phone bill we’re talking about, not first class tickets. How ridiculous.

As long as the Aussie telcos continue to play silly buggers, there will be a need for the trans-Tasman roaming regulation talks to continue and TUANZ will continue to support a regulated outcome, but we’re no longer solving a problem for Kiwi users – it’s entirely for the Aussie users’ benefit now.

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