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
BlackBerry makes $137m from software, technology licensing in 3 monthsBlackBerry Limited this week reported its financial results for the three months ended May 3 this year, showing earnings of $137 million from software and technology licensing revenue. Read More
Broadband a GDP enabler: MainOneBroadband has a key role to play as an enabler to increase employment and grow GDP, MainOne CEO Funke Opeke told the recent Commonwealth Broadband Forum held in Abuja. Read More
BICS reports explosion in LTE roamingBICS, a global wholesale carrier for voice, mobile data and capacity services, says it has witness a rapid increase in LTE roaming traffic over its market-leading IPX network. Read More
BlackBerry Leap launched in NigeriaBlackBerry Limited has launched its latest device, the BlackBerry Leap, in Nigeria. Read More
Late night mobile car searches skyrocket in Ghana80% of new car customers and almost 100% of used car customers begin their car shopping experience online, often late in the evening via mobile, says online vehicle marketplace Carmudi. Read More
Smile Communications selects Ericsson for 4G/LTE managed serviceEricsson is to manage operations and maintenance for Smile Communications in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Read More
Airtel names Yaya Toure as new brand ambassadorBharti Airtel Africa has announced Yaya Touré as the new African face for its upcoming continental campaign. Read More
Q1 mobile subscriptions in Africa hit 910mIn Q1 of this year, total number of new mobile subscriptions in Africa moved up to about 910 million including 21 million new subscriptions, the latest Ericsson Mobility Report has shown. Read More
Infinix Mobility showcases Zero 2 smartphone in NigeriaA leader in the manufacturing of trendy smartphones, Infinix Mobility Limited, has unveiled the Infinix Zero 2 smartphone into the Nigerian market. Read More
FEATURED STORYIHS plans to inject fresh $500m to grow capacity
Mohammed Darwish, managing director of IHS Towers, says the firm will soon inject another $500million into the business after raising some $2.5billion to finance expansion drives. Darwish spoke with biztecafrica.com in Lagos.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHAs curtain falls on MDGs, what next?
Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, speaks to Biztechafrica about setting smart targets.
COMPANY NEWSMTN Business expands partnership with Samsung to offer enterprise customers increased security
Samsung Electronics South Africa has announced that MTN Business has been appointed as a reseller of Samsung’s KNOX licenses to its customers.