A bouquet for Telecom

Telecom has jumped into the roaming issue with both feet and I’m very pleased with the result.

TUANZ has been lobbying hard to get data roaming rates reduced. While the price of mobile data in New Zealand varies in price from nothing to $30/GB, travellers heading oversees will find that price can balloon out to $30,000/GB which makes for an unhappy homecoming, as I’m sure you’re all aware.

We’ve all got horror stories of roaming gone wrong, whether it’s having a piece of software update itself in the background or using the wrong SIM card and paying casual rates. The issue’s got so bad the governments of Australia and New Zealand have put together a trans-Tasman roaming review and the future looks like being highly regulated.

Our telcos have responded the right way, by addressing pricing directly. Australian customers should be so lucky – Telstra still charges nose-bleed rates for travellers coming into New Zealand and the others aren’t far ahead.

Vodafone New Zealand has launched its “data angel” service for travellers alerting them to usage and requiring customers to make contact before using excessive amounts of data, but Telecom has just changed the game again with today’s announcement.

From December 21, Telecom customers travelling abroad will pay a flat-rate, per day rate for data and so long as their usage is similar to their usage at home, that’s all they’ll pay. In Australia, that’s a $6/day price – in the UK, USA and China (among others) it’s $10/day.

This kind of offer goes a long way towards saving customers’ sanity when they’re roaming and is especially good for business users, whose usage doesn’t vary that much whether they’re working in New Zealand or working abroad. You’ll be able to do all the things you do locally without breaking the bank and that will go a long way towards making data roaming a viable business tool.

If we can avoid the spectre of government agencies setting prices, I’ll be happy and so I’m sure will the telcos. This kind of thing goes a long way towards that goal and I for one am very pleased to see it.