11 Jun 2011

Pressure to cut trans-Tasman roaming charges

7:16 am on 11 June 2011

Phone companies are coming under increasing pressure to further reduce charges for roaming on mobile phones across the Tasman.

Communications Minister Steven Joyce has released a survey showing four out of five New Zealand businesses say the cost of data roaming is prohibitive to their staff doing business in Australia.

The survey found that companies put limits on staff use of smartphones, tablets and laptops to access the internet.

In April, the New Zealand and Australian governments announced a joint investigation into whether regulatory intervention is needed in the trans-Tasman roaming market.

The chief executive of the Telecommunications Users Association, Paul Brislen, says the message is clear - that companies will have to massively reduce their overseas roaming charges if they want to avoid regulation.

Mr Brislen says data charges in particular are ridiculously high, and says he's had an $1800 bill for downloading "a couple of emails".

Vodafone says the survey was carried out from June last year to January and since then roaming prices have been heavily reduced.

Spokesperson Michelle Baguley agrees that $1 per megabyte is expensive but points out the service is different. She says the company charges the same rate for voice calls on a roaming service as in New Zealand.