ITU acts to cut roaming bill shocks
MOBILE| Sept. 14, 2012, 2:47 p.m.
ITU members from the public and private sectors have agreed on measures to reduce ‘bill-shock’ whereby consumers are faced with unexpected and excessive charges for mobile roaming.
They have approved a number of measures to empower consumers and encourage operators to lower tariffs. These measures (Recommendation ITU-T D.98) will represent the first truly international agreement taking steps towards lowering roaming costs.
Governments and regulators are recommended to explore ways to protect and empower consumers in determining their best choices among the array of options available to them in the rapidly evolving mobile marketplace, for example by making information on international mobile services clearer and more transparent, and by making it easier for consumers to choose a network abroad that offers the best value.
In addition, alerts should be sent to consumers as they approach a certain cost limit for roaming, with a block placed on further usage unless authorized by the user.
Market-based solutions are advocated, including cultivating regional cooperation among operators and regulators, and encouraging them to reach agreements on lowering wholesale roaming tariffs. Possible regulatory measures are also recommended, such as placing caps on prices charged to consumers for mobile roaming.
ITU Secretary General Hamadoun I. Touré said: “ITU Member States agree on the need for international action on roaming charges, and this agreement is a clear indication of a willingness to address the issue for the good of both consumers and the global trade. I believe operators will see benefits in the long term as higher volumes of traffic are generated when it becomes more attractive for consumers to use their phones and mobile services while travelling.”
International roaming is by nature a multi-country issue, and unified action from the international community is therefore the only means to address “bill-shock”. The issues involved and their degree vary from region to region (and also within regions), in terms of economics, market structures and regulatory frameworks. As there is no guarantee that unilateral action by one country’s national regulatory authority will lead to reciprocal action in other countries, cooperation between regulators and policy makers – either bilaterally or multilaterally – is likely to be more effective than unilateral action by any one national regulatory authority.
Additional measures in Recommendation ITU-T D.98 include advocating the use of services that enable substitutes such as different SIM cards (an example is the use of global virtual mobile network operator cards), dual-SIM handsets, or the rental of a second handset. Member States are also encouraged to investigate the provision of international mobile roaming services by other means, for example by the take-up of new technologies so as to increase user choice.
The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) in Dubai this December will consider proposals on international mobile roaming for inclusion in the global treaty on international telecommunications. This treaty known as the “International Telecommunication Regulations” (ITRs) is up for review for the first time since 1988 – long before the explosion of mobile communications – to take into account the vastly altered telecommunications environment. Proponents believe that regulations to ensure transparency of end-user prices for international mobile services, and for users to promptly receive full information when crossing a national border would lead to greater competition with potential benefits for consumers. Another proposal would ensure that prices are based on either the actual costs incurred by the service provider, or comparable to the prices charged in the user’s home country, or to those charged to customers in the visited country.
MORE MOBILE NEWS
Alliance for Affordable Internet welcomes Ghanaian moves to cut mobile phone taxesThe Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) has welcomed Ghana’s commitment to scrap hefty import duties on smartphones. Read More
VMware Study: Businesses can Take Three Weeks to get Employees Mobile-ReadyEMEA businesses say concerns over trust, ownership and delivery capability may hold back taking advantage of the mobile cloud-era. Read More
Satellite-powered tablet to use Newtec technology for e-learningSatellite solution provider Yazmi has announced a new e-learning scheme using the first satellite-enabled tablet, called Odyssey, and Newtec's multicast technology to deliver content via satellite to rural, remote and low income regions in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Read More
TECNO to launch sub-$30 smartphone next yearDevice manufacturer TECNO Mobile is planning to launch a smartphone next year that will cost less than US$30, as it looks to remove the barriers to smartphone ownership in Africa. Read More
Airtel, Facebook to bring Internet.org mobile app to KenyaAirtel has announced a partnership with Facebook to offer the Internet.org app to its prepaid and post-paid customers in Kenya beginning later this week. Read More
80% interest in “right person, right message, right moment” mobile marketingNew research reveals that although 80% of respondents feel annoyed when receiving unsolicited messages, the same proportion could be won back by operators and brands if they implemented best practices to improve customer engagement. Read More
Airtel Ghana MD urges youth: ‘strive for excellence’The Managing Director of Airtel Ghana, Lucy Quist, has called on all to blaze their own trail through persistence in the pursuit of their dreams. Read More
Vodafone execs volunteer at Senchi Community LibraryThe senior management team of Vodafone Ghana took time off from their busy schedules to paint and clean up the Senchi Community Library in the Eastern Region. Read More
Airtel Zambia CSR wins awardAirtel Zambia has scooped two Zambia Public Relations Association (ZAPRA) Awards. Read More
Airtel Ghana MD: ‘Ghanaians must tell their own story’The Managing Director of Airtel Ghana, has urged Public Relations Practitioners in the country to use communications tools and channels at their disposal, to tell their own story and that of Ghana. Read More
FEATURED STORYGSMA: half a billion mobile subscribers in SSA by 2020
The number of unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa will pass the half billion mark in 2020, says a new GSMA report.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHAfrica lags on digital migration
Only three African countries have so far completed the digital migration process, and serious issues are hampering the migration in other nations.
COMPANY NEWSVMware Study: Businesses can Take Three Weeks to get Employees Mobile-Ready
EMEA businesses say concerns over trust, ownership and delivery capability may hold back taking advantage of the mobile cloud-era.