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
Safaricom launches youth platformSafaricom has announced the launch of BLAZE, a platform that seeks to empower youth using the power of mobile. Read More
Vodafone sweeps awards in two separate eventsVodafone Ghana is cementing its reputation for social media excellence, with a series of awards. Read More
Winners emerge in Samsung’s “Inspire Bigger Dreams” campaignThe Samsung Electronics “Inspire Bigger Dreams” competition has produced three winners. The campaign was aimed at encouraging Nigerians to keep their dreams alive, dream bigger and aspire to greater heights. Read More
Simplifying and enhancing security on MTN’s information systems key to improving customer experienceIn the first hundred days in his new role, MTN South Africa’s new Chief Information Officer, Benjamin Marais, says his focus was to simplify information technology processes internally and externally, and beef up security of the systems in order to enhance customer experience. Read More
Uganda blocks social media ahead of Museveni swearing inThe Ugandan government locked down access to all social media platforms, citing security reasons, as President Museveni took the oath of office for his fifth term this week. Read More
Glo unveils Talk SpecialNational telecoms operator Globacom has launched a new product called Talk Special in a move it said would enhance the communication experience of subscribers on its platform. Read More
LTE enables the mobile workforceMTN Business says LTE will play a central role in alleviating enterprises' mobile pain-points and facilitating the move to a mobile first strategy. Read More
Zuri Brand seeks share of Kenya’s smartphone marketRecently launched digital lifestyle devices brand Zuri has stepped up efforts to capture a share of the Kenyan smartphone market with the launch of four smartphone models. Read More
BTCL selects Amdocs for business support systems modernisationAmdocs has announced that Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL), a provider of fixed, mobile and broadband services to approximately 800,000 customers, has awarded Amdocs a five-year managed services contract for business support systems (BSS) modernisation. Read More
FEATURED STORYGovernment should encourage youths in ICT early
Youths should be given more encouragement to develop their ICT skills, an 11-year-old app developer told Kokumo Goodie.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHIBM Opens First Cloud Data Centre in South Africa
IBM is opening a new IBM Cloud Data Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. The new cloud center is the result of a close collaboration with Gijima and Vodacom and is designed to support cloud adoption and customer demand across the continent.
COMPANY NEWSNetworks Unlimited officially launches Mellanox Technologies Open Ethernet Solutions
Networks Unlimited, a value-adding distributor of converged technology, data centre, networking, and security technology throughout Africa, has hosted the official Johannesburg launch of Mellanox Technologies,