When a respected technology journalist becomes spokesman for a consumer group you have to wonder if his objectivity can be retained. In this interview, Asher Moses, the new spokesperson for consumer group, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), is asked the reasons why ‘bill shock’ still happens and whether new requirements for mobile phone providers in Australia to alert customers about the extra expenses they will incur while their phone is roaming on overseas networks wil solve the problem
Understandably, he lays the blame for roaming bill shock squarely at the feet of the operators, but some of his arguments may be a little difficult to justify. You be the judge.
In many countries domestic mobile rates have been forced down by regulation and competitive pressures. Many operators have tried to compensate through roaming rates. There is, of course, no interest for anybody in people getting extreme roaming shock. It generates a lot of bad press and leads to many travelers either leaving their phones switched off or buying a local SIM. So telling your subscribers explicitly about the rates that apply on arrival is a very good thing.
Probably the biggest danger is in digital apps where many customers may not even be aware that they are using airtime. Education is needed about this issues.
Operators can also do various things to reduce unnecessary costs: for example they can implement voice mailbox routing optimisation or local routing for visiting roamers. Analysis of roamer traffic can also potentially show them how many subscriber attaches they are losing… providing grounds for sensible discussion about rates and the potential elasticity of demand.
Other areas of demand might arise from accidental roaming or roaming retention. This is where subscribers, although in their home territory, are still effectively roaming because they have been accidentally acquired or retained by a foreign roaming partner. Once again data applications can seriously rack up the costs.
Again there are solutions to specifically reduce these issues.