Data Roaming Charges

Tom Pullar-Strecker reports:

It was nothing more than any holidaymaker might do.

Wellingtonian Magnus O’Neill pulled out his iPhone while holidaying in the Cook Islands, checked Facebook and used Wikipedia to research his hotel and what tropical fish he might see.

The online checks would have cost him about $4 in New Zealand. Instead he now faces a bill from for $2000.

His roaming consumed a modest 70 megabytes of mobile data. But what Mr O’Neill didn’t realise was that he was being charged $30 a megabyte, a price he believes was “extortionate and unfair”.

It is. This is an all too common story.

In Europe, regulators were forcing the wholesale price of data roaming down to 5c a megabyte, he said.

Which is plenty, considering the cost of international bandwidth wholesales at around 5c a gigabyte. The problem is that when you go overseas with your mobile, you have little choice but to pay or not use. However something I now do is acquire a local sim card. It will give you a few GB of data for well under $100.

Telecom spokeswoman Stephanie Fergusson said Telecom had offered to write off $977.87 of Mr O’Neill’s bill, which he had run up before he received a delayed “courtesy” text from Telecom advising him that New Zealand data rates would not apply during his visit to the Cook Islands.

They should occur near instantly when you land.

This month Telecom will introduce a new service that will let customers set their own dollar limits for data roaming that will stop them from racking up bigger bills unless overridden. It will also text customers when they consume more than 2Mb, 60Mb and 100Mb when roaming overseas.

This is a step in the right direction. But the limits are ridicolous. No person in their right mind wants to use 60 or 100 MBs. You need steps in between 2 and 60. I would suggest available limits should be 1 MB, 2 MB, 5 MB, 10 MB, 20 MB, and 35 MB (which is $1,000 in some countries), 60 MB, 100 MB.

I am assuming that Telecom means megabytes (MB) not megabits (Mb). The Dom Post uses Mb in that last paragraph, which normally indicates megabits.

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