Telecom says the threat of regulation on roaming charges will
not change its plans for more changes to rates for its
customers travelling overseas.
The company's head of mobile roaming Niki Chave said she was
pleased price cuts had been acknowledged by Prime Minister
John Key in a warning of price caps following a summit with
his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard at the weekend.
Ms Chave said Telecom had a sense the warning was coming but
"the potential regulatory activity that might fall out of it
won't change what we are doing.
"We were doing this well in advance of the big stick. We're
going to continue to change."
The company slashed its roaming charges across the Tasman
late last year, introducing a $6 a day flat rate for data
roaming in Australia for contract customers, and $10 a day in
other key markets including the USA, UK and China. Vodafone
and 2degrees have also cut charges.
Ms Chave said across the Tasman the three telcos had been
slow to cut their roaming rates.
She said the changes Telecom introduced last December had
resulted in a spike in roaming data use during January,
traditionally a quiet time with less business travel.
Telecom was working to extend the discounted fixed rate
roaming charges to other markets, including Japan and South
At the time of the $6 deal announcement last year, the
company said it could not rule out price increases in
Australia. Ms Chave maintained that stance today but said it
was hoped that some rates such as those in the United States
could be cut.
Telecom's small size compared to other telcos around the
world meant it did not have the negotiating power of big
Revenue figures for Telecom roaming are not disclosed but she
said it was not a particularly big earner for Telecom,
likening it to a corner dairy compared to the
supermarket-size total mobile business.
Following the Key-Gillard meeting, Communications Minister
Amy Adams confirmed authorities on both sides of the Tasman
will also have the power to demand that telecommunications
companies offer local access that does not force the
traveller to buy a local sim card.
"They will collect, benchmark and report that publicly and
they will be given the ability to intervene in the market in
a series of ways, including setting price caps if they think
it is necessary or requiring operators to offer local access
services that don't require you to buy a local sim card."
- Grant Bradley of the New Zealand Herald