Draft ‘International Mobile Roaming Code’ released for public consultation
The country's telecommunications industry is taking steps to improve consumer confidence in International Mobile Roaming (‘IMR’) services – particularly in relation to providing more transparency on IMR pricing, and on how best to use IMR services. The Telecommunications Carriers’ Forum is taking a lead role with this: in consultation with the industry, Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Ministry of Economic Development, a code has been drafted specifying minimum standards for the information available to consumers of ‘outbound’ IMR services. It also presents guidelines for service providers on the options provided to customers for helping them to better manage their IMR charges.
While telecommunications service providers already provide detailed pricing information to their roaming customers, there is a need for clear and consistent information on IMR pricing, charging, and related services. The ‘International Mobile Roaming Code’ is now being released for public consultation. The deadline for submissions is 15 February 2011.
One of the Code’s key objectives is to set out ‘Measures’ to be implemented by service providers. The measures are aimed at ensuring that pricing is presented in a ‘clear, consistent, timely, and useful manner’ – enabling customers ready access to IMR-specific information when they most require it (before or while they are travelling).
Minimum requirements detailed in the Code include those relating to the provision of tariff-specific information, and to ‘IMR information’ for customers wanting to enable/disable IMR services on their accounts.
In addition to its minimum requirements, the Code contains ‘Optional Initiatives’. These identify ‘information channels’ for further enabling service providers to raise awareness of their IMR prices and related information. Airports, departure points, and travel agents are included in the channels recommended as opportunities for increasing consumer awareness on IMR pricing and services.
Also included in the Code is the ‘TCF International Mobile Roaming Guide’, setting out recommended parameters for providing consumers with examples of the likely charges for common uses of roaming.
Telecommunications Carriers’ Forum CEO David Stone has welcomed activity on the Code, and is urging all interested parties to take full advantage of the public consultation process.
‘The industry’s operators already do provide detailed pricing information to their roaming customers. They have endeavoured to reduce the complexity of their roaming plans by, for one thing, introducing initiatives such as zone-based pricing.
‘Despite these efforts, there’s been a continuing industry-wide awareness of customer concerns and ‘bill shock’‑ particularly for those who’ve been using international roaming.’
The Code, he said, is a genuine endeavour to provide clarity and practical standards for operators to follow ‑ and to help ensure consumers are fully aware of the options available to them when considering or selecting an IMR function.
The Code for Information on International Mobile Roaming Services and Charges (‘International Mobile Roaming Code’) will be a ‘self-regulated’ Code. It will take immediate effect from the date it is approved by the TCF Board.