There’s no price like roam

Roaming prices have dropped a little in Europe — thanks only to legislation. It’s another sign that the industry is incapable of self-regulation and will always need the regulator to intervene.

The price of roaming has always been contentious, but opponents are becoming more vocal as we travel overseas with our smart phones, iPads and laptops. Voice calls might be expensive, but data costs are astronomical. In a ZDNet readers survey conducted last month, practically everyone thought that roaming data charges should be cut by as much as 60 per cent.

It’s easy for operators to always blame the other guy. Mobile providers claim that overseas networks charge such high prices that they are forced to pass it on, but they, presumably, do the same thing when negotiating access to their own local networks. You have to wonder why the industry at large wouldn’t question whether more reasonable prices wouldn’t drive up demand and increase revenue? Hey, you might even have happier customers!

Unfortunately, it seems as though the telecommunications industry has difficulty seeing beyond the end of its nose. If there’s a short-term gain to be made from price gouging, at the wholesale or retail level, they’ll go for it.

If the industry can’t look after the customer, it rests on the regulator to step in. In Europe, calls have been capped at 39 cents and wholesale data €1 per megabyte. It seems likely that the only way prices will come down here is if a similar approach is taken. Apparently moves are afoot — regulators are forming alliances between governments to take the industry on. Bring it on!

On this week’s program you’ll hear from:

  • Rosemary Sinclair, MD of the Australian Telecommunications Users Group;
  • Doug Purdie, owner of the Phone Choice website;
  • Amit Daniel, VP Marketing at Starhome; and
  • Penny Roberts, International sales director at GoSim.

First published on ZDNet

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