The ACMA

Reconnecting the customer

Telecommunications consumer protection code

New tools for overseas bill shock

SMS alerts, spend management tools and opt-out arrangements for Australians using their mobile phone overseas will become available soon under a new Australian Communications and Media Authority standard announced today.

The new International Mobile Roaming (IMR) standard requires mobile service providers to provide a range of consumer protection features to help overseas travellers manage their mobile usage and better avoid bill shock.

‘Forewarned is certainly a major part of being forearmed,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. ‘These new measures will help consumers travelling with their mobile phone to be much better equipped than ever before to avoid travel bill shock.

‘The standard extends the information which suppliers must make available to Australian consumers under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code. They will now receive similar information when they travel overseas and use roaming services.’

This initiative builds on the ACMA’s work in the Reconnecting the Customer public inquiry (RTC inquiry), which found consumers were often not aware of charging arrangements and how charges accrue.

The IMR Standard will be phased in from 27 September 2013. Its four key consumer protection measures are:

  • A notification via SMS to be sent to all consumers on arrival overseas, warning them that significantly higher charges for using roaming services may apply.
    Enabling customers to stop international roaming, at low cost, at any time—including from an overseas location.
    A notification to be sent via SMS to customers of service providers giving them pricing information for using a range of roaming services. These services include any that would normally be free in the domestic market, such as receiving a call on a mobile device. 
    Spend management tools, including notifications in A$100 increments for data usage and notifications at 50, 85 and 100 per cent of included value, if a customer has purchased an included value travel package from their IMR service provider.

The timing of these initiatives is detailed here.

The new standard represents the second tranche of improved transparency measures to aid telecommunications consumers. The first tranche was in the strengthened Telecommunication Consumer Protections Code, following the RTC inquiry.

The Australian Government has also announced other measures to address high international mobile roaming charges.

An ACMA fact sheet is available for travellers with additional tips to avoid paying high charges when overseas, including purchasing a travel product from a service provider or unlocking a phone and purchasing a foreign SIM card.

An infographic with additional tips to avoid overseas holiday bill shock is also available here. More information about phone charges and plans can be found here.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Louise Tapsell (02) 93347954 or media@acma.gov.au.

Media release 49/2013 - 3 July

Last updated: 04 October 2016

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