The ACMA is reviewing rules about international mobile roaming (IMR) for Australian telcos. They have proposed that International Mobile Roaming rules should be applied via a service provider determination, rather than an industry standard. This makes the rules administratively simpler to change and increases the maximum penalty for non-compliance. The ACMA has proposed a few other updates to mobile roaming regulation with the intention of making the rules more flexible for customers and telcos.

ACCAN supports of some, but not all, of the proposed changes. We agree with the tightening of existing International Mobile Roaming rules. However, we are concerned that some flexibility measures are too discretionary, and fail to provide appropriate consumer protections.

In our submission, we agreed that:

  • non-mobile phone devices (eg. tablets) should be covered by the new International Mobile Roaming determination,
  • International Mobile Roaming-related notifications should be available in a variety of communication methods (eg. SMS, email, or app push notification),
  • charging information for customers who have purchased International Mobile Roaming value plans is delivered with the 85%
  • data usage notification, rather than the 100% notification,
  • the definition of a small business consumer is expanded to include those with an annual telecommunications spend of up to $40,000,
  • the ‘nominal fee’ that can be charged for declining International Mobile Roaming services is capped at $1.00.

However, ACCAN does not support the following measures which would weaken consumer protections:
the obligation to use standard notification text is removed from some types of International Mobile Roaming notifications. We have concerns that this would allow telcos to use the message for marketing purposes that may obscure key information.

Permitting charging information relating to multiple countries to be sent every 14 days, rather than each time a customer uses mobile roaming in a new country.

Additionally, we are concerned that some notifications consumers receive about how much data they have used can be based on information up to 48 hours old. This means that when they receive the notification, they may have used far more data than the notification suggests. We encourage the ACMA to investigate more ways to protect consumers from excessive International Mobile Roaming fees, like the introduction of a cap on the amount a customer can be charged for using mobile roaming, or the removal of default access to International Mobile Roaming services.

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