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New consumer protections to reduce mobile roaming bill shock

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has enhanced rules for telcos in order to better protect people against the ‘bill shock’ that can come from high international mobile roaming charges.

Under current rules, telcos must send notifications about international mobile roaming charges to devices that can receive SMS messages – mostly mobile phones. This can cause issues for the growing number of consumers that travel with devices not suited to receiving SMS, such as tablets and laptops.

Under the new rules, notifications must be sent to any device capable of accessing international roaming, and will also be available through alternate means such as email or an app.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said no one should have an overseas trip tarnished by a mobile bill that has been unintentionally run up due to high international mobile roaming charges.

“It is not uncommon for people to return home only to realise their overseas data use has resulted in a much higher than expected mobile bill, which can sometimes run into thousands of dollars,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“These new rules will close some gaps in the system and ensure people are better informed of the costs associated with using mobile data overseas, particularly for those using tablets or laptops.

“Anyone travelling overseas will now have a choice over how they receive international roaming alerts.”

Consumers will now be notified earlier about the maximum charges that will apply after reaching the call, text or data limit in their mobile plan. The protections are also being extended to cover more small businesses.

The new rules will come into effect from 1 July 2020 under the Telecommunications Service Provider (International Mobile Roaming) Determination.

Ms O’Loughlin urged people to remain vigilant when it comes to using your devices overseas.

“Make sure you are aware of international roaming charges and check the details in your mobile contract before you travel,” she said.

For more information, see the ACMA’s guide to using your mobile overseas.

MR 48/2019

For more information, please contact ACMA Media on 0438 375 776 or media@acma.gov.au.

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