You may have seen it reported in the news or perhaps it happened to your neighbor. Perhaps the Aunt Marion, or to the girl who is next across at work. Perhaps even to you.
It’s not uncommon these days to come back from a holiday and then open an account for your mobile phone or, given that it’s the 21st century, and all, access your account online, only to discover that you’ve been charged hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars in international roaming costs.
There’s even a word for it called bill shock.
Let’s look at the story of a Canadian traveler whose bill increased to $2,290 in the course of a short stay within Los Angeles. There’s also that Ontario man who ran up expenses of $17,150 on the trip to Russia which resulted in his phone being cut off by his service provider after the damage had been caused.
Even more disturbing is the story about that Vancouver woman who went across North Africa for two weeks in the year 2011. Her homecoming gift? A bill for $37,694, an amount that is enough to make many of us faint.
A new study of roaming costs for international use from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) is similar to the demand that consumers have been making for a long time to create regulations that force mobile operators to inform users of roaming charges and set limits on the expensive charges.
International Price Roaming
Although Canadians are apparently waking over the price of international roaming – 16 percent keep their phones in the home when they travel abroad, and 44 percent keep it off, just switching it on in the event of an emergency Many aren’t sure what it’s about and why it is so high.
58% of those polled by PIAC stated that billing for international roaming costs is difficult to comprehend. It appears that the majority of the mobile operators remain this way.
Two Intermediaries Connected via Internet
If you connect to the Internet via your phone in the country you reside in the phone connects to the network of a foreign operator that then sends your data through an intermediary service to the carrier in your home country. Two telecom companies as well as intermediaries – may have wholesale rate agreements. When you get your monthly bill it will contain the additional costs for transmitting and fees and will be added a retail mark-up to ensure that your provider is making money.
Unanticipated roaming fees
What’s that charge? Are we being overcharged? The PIAC states that it is difficult to determine since specific information on costs isn’t accessible in Canada. Without hard data the public opinion has reached its decision 9 of the 10 people who were surveyed believed they were paying more than they should.
Some other regions of the globe have experienced better luck discovering the truth of the issue. A study from 2006 by the European Commission study found the average cost for the call that was roamed was about five times greater than the actual wholesale costs. A report from an Australian newspaper reported that domestic operators typically earn profit margins of 1000 percent on international calls they charge their customers.
North Americans appear to be on most prominent position in terms of paying the most expensive fees for roaming wireless. In the past there was an Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) study looked at the charges. Canadians paid the highest out of the 34 countries studied, then followed by United States and Mexico in third and second place respectively. Greek consumer’s cost was the lowest. No matter if they are on the lower or the top end, the problem appears to be common to all nation, according to according to the OECD report.
It’s not a surprise that nearly 90 percent of Canadians say they’ve received bills for international roaming fees that cost more than they anticipated.
Issues of Roaming
In the business world A study conducted in January 2012 looked at the way Fortune 1000 companies were dealing with the issue of roaming. Seventy percent of respondents reported higher roaming charges with 37 percent paying more than $1,000 per month for each user. Twelve percent are spending more than $3500 per month per user. This is probably the reason 40% of companies do not permit their employees to access their wireless device during travel.
A global problem, the only area that regulations and restrictions on retail and wholesale roaming charges exist is within the European Union. Carriers in the EU are legally required to inform customers by text message when they roam, and to stop access when the 50 Euro limit is reached. In Canada it is a choice for carriers to notify customers by text messages. Some do it already, advising the customer whenever they use their mobile in a different country and advising users when they have reached different levels of consumption of data. The practice of text notifications is being implemented within the United States.
To define the engagement rules for both the service provider, PIAC has recommended the following:
Inform your consumers through text
Consumers should receive a SMS notification to remind them of their data roaming charges when they arrive in a different country.
– Providers should establish the monthly international roaming limit that is selected by the subscriber or in the event that it is not chosen, as a default.
Consumers must be informed by text message at least two times prior to the time their monthly data usage exceeds the limit.
the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) should establish reporting requirements for roaming internationally for providers.
– – The Canadian government needs to create a policy that regulates the guidelines for the wholesale cost of roaming services to ensure Canadians get the first priority when visiting other countries.
“On the one hand, a price point is required where Canadian wireless providers are inclined to innovate in order to lower costs and continue their important contribution to the national economy,” is the conclusion of in the PIAC report. “On the other hand, Canadian consumers should be operating their wireless devices in an environment where there are clear rules and indicators provided to them about their data usage.” Saudia Airlines and Emirates have good deals on flights to that country.