Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Telstra tackles overseas bill shock with alerts

Bill shock: Using your mobile overseas can be expensive.

Bill shock: Using your mobile overseas can be expensive. Photo: Jupiter Images

Telstra will send data usage alerts for every 20 megabytes customers use overseas in an effort to stamp out bill shock.

Telstra's deputy chief financial officer Mark Hall told a Macquarie Australia Equities Conference on Wednesday that some customers didn't "fully appreciate the volume of data" many of their online activities consumed, nor the cost of mobile data applied to mobile roaming by overseas telcos on Telstra.

To address this, he said the telco would introduce SMS usage alerts for each 20MB of international roaming data used by a customer. "This will help our customers to manage their data usage overseas," Mr Hall said.


But some are questioning whether it will actually fix the problem of bill shock at all.

As pointed out in a comment on the Telstra Exchange blog, some customers, depending on their plan, would have already spent $307.20 by the time they were warned of using 20MB of data. This is if they didn't choose to purchase an international data roaming pack and were charged the standard 1.5 cents per kilobyte.

If a customer had purchased a data pack, using 20MB of data while roaming will cost them between $17.57 and $29, depending on whether they purchased the top-tier $1800 pack with 2GB of data or $29 20MB pack.

Telsyte mobile services analyst Alvin Lee said it was encouraging to see telcos like Telstra take initiatives to tackle bill shock. But at the end of the day he said it was ultimately up to individuals to be aware of the costs associated with roaming.

"As soon as data connections are enabled on smartphones, multiple applications commence sending and receiving data, therefore it will not take long to use 20MB of data before a user gets a notice," Mr Lee said.

"If smartphone users are not sure which applications to disable or how to disable them, it is best to just turn off data roaming all together and utilise Wi-Fi hotspots while overseas."

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