It’s time for a inquiry into internet data roaming prices

Telstra, the Australian telecommunications giant, has just announced a A$10-a-day roaming package for travellers to 57 countries.

Before we break out the champagne to celebrate such a groundbreaking deal, can I be allowed to point out — in fact, shout out — that this is still outrageous and unacceptably high given what’s on offer?

As Australian Business Traveller reports, that includes just a measly 100MB a day in data. Anything over that is charged at 3 cents per MB.

So Aussie travellers are looking at a minimum of $70 a week — $300 a month — for something that can be obtained for free at hotels, cafes and hotspots.

OK, so it’s mobile. But signing up with any local mobile carrier anywhere in the world will get you 100MB of data for a hell of a lot less than $10 a day. Indeed, Optus in Australia offers its domestic customers 1GB for $10.

I’ve just purchased a month’s unlimited data, plus a small amount of call time, in Thailand for about $30 — that’s $1 a day.

Assuming that Telstra is buying capacity at the retail rate in foreign countries — and you can bet that it’s getting it much cheaper — the roaming rates are a shameful rip off.

And I’m certain that it’s not the only international telco gouging its loyal customers who dare to travel abroad.

Of course clever frequent travellers know all about local SIM cards and dual-SIM phones, but they should not have to do a work around.

Governments should ensure (as I believe they do within the European Union) that travellers are not exploited in this way.

The Australian government should pave the way by calling a royal commission (inquiry) into telco pricing.

PS: Interestingly, Telstra CEO Andrew Penn has warned industry colleagues that data could be free within 10 years.


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