Telecom has made the first move to bring down data roaming charges with a game-changing flat daily rate of $6 in Australia or $10 for the rest of the world, though the 'fair use' proviso could trip up some users.
From December 21, postpaid users roaming in Australia will be charged $6 a day (Telecom will review the rate in mid 2013). Customers will pay $10 a day flat rate for data while travelling in the UK, US, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia.
A fair use clause applies: "If you use significantly more data while roaming than you do at home, you may be in breach of this policy. If this is the case, we will alert you, and if you breach the policy again, we reserve the right to suspend your account."
For prepaid users, data will still be charged on a usage basis, but rates have dropped to as low as $1 per MB up to a maximum of $8 per MB (down from a previous high of $30). Scroll down for a full table of rates.
The new pricing schedule also includes new voice call roaming rates, featuring a 35 percent cut in the per-minute rate for Australia. Rate bands across all other markets have been simplified and in some cases reduced.
“We know data roaming charges have been a pain-point for customers – personally, it was a real bugbear of mine as a customer before I joined Telecom earlier this year. A flat fee provides certainty and puts an end to concerns about nasty bill shocks on your return home," Telecom chief executive Simon Moutter said.
“It’s also much simpler to follow than any usage-based system – as most customers don’t really know how quickly their phone apps will chew through 1MB, 10MB or 100MB.”
Moutter said Telecom wanted to encourage customers to make better use of their mobile devices, in line with its vision of a data-driven future for telecommunications.
“Currently, around two-thirds of our business customers switch off their data when in Australia, despite most being regular data users when in New Zealand. Smartphones feature plenty of useful functions and apps, such as maps, banking and news, not to mention email, to help you work (or play) smarter when travelling.”
Moutter acknowledged there was an element of financial risk for Telecom in the flat fee approach, “but we reckon it’s a risk worth taking”.
“We’ve being negotiating hard on new wholesale deals with overseas telcos that underpin our new pricing. At the same time, we’ve had to make assumptions on how customers’ data use behaviour might change under the flat fee approach.”
“We’ve focused first on those markets most important to our business customers, in particular Australia, US and China. We’ll keep pushing on behalf of customers and be seeking to add more countries to our flat fee plan as and when we can.”
Meanwhile, a massive broadband outage affected 200,000 Telecom customers this morning, when an upgrade caused issues with internet connections and Eftpos systems around the country.