Despite some telco efforts to help manage the cost of global roaming, ACCAN is warning business travellers and holidaymakers that they can still get stung among the 'confusing' range of offers on the table.
ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin, said that while carriers had significantly reduced and simplified roaming charges and were lessening the variation between countries, consumers could still get stung if they do not choose the right plan for their specific needs and usage. "This research highlights the significant price differences on global roaming both across and within providers, as well as the diverse ways of calculating charges," Corbin said. "Individuals will need to make a judgment based on the particular overseas trip they take and the services they want to use, and may find that high roaming charges mean they are better off changing from a plan that is otherwise good value." Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have all recently introduced measures to reduce roaming charges after charging exorbitant prices for too long. "The recent changes are a step in the right direction but there is now a confusing array of roaming offers from data packs, to pay as you go to $5/$10 a day deals," Corbin said. "Some of the new plans are data-only or don't cover all popular travel destinations for Australians." ACCAN commissioned new research into global roaming, conducted by ACA Research to help consumers make a smarter, more informed choice regarding their roaming provider.
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Some of the top tips its offering include: Avoid using data roaming on prepaid or post-paid plans without a roaming data pack; for calls only users can get a much better deal using a travel sim such as GoSim, Roaming Sim and Travel Sim compared to prepaid/post-paid plans from the main providers; Sending MMS messages through roaming costs a lot but consumers can avoid these costs by sending photos via online apps provided they are within their data use limits or using Wi-Fi; try to avoid checking your voicemail as it can be costly.
Buying a local SIM is also an attractive option for travellers.
Corbin warned the biggest mistake consumers could make was using data roaming on their normal plan as opposed to opting for a better value data pack or other special roaming offer. "The onus is on consumers to ensure they opt-in to the lower rates because in some older plans, the high roaming prices are still in place," she said. "With the global roaming notifications recently introduced for Australians it will be harder to rack up a big bill without realising but beware there can be a delay in receiving these messages."