Telstra's 4G roaming prices raise eyebrows

Caroline Gabriel/Wireless Watch
22 Jan 2013

4G roaming between Australia and Hong Kong

Executive director of networks, Mike Wright, said: "Telstra was the first operator to introduce a 4G LTE mobile network in Australia, and with this service we will become the first local operator to offer 4G LTE international roaming for customers.” However, the price may be a deterrent – it is the same as 3G data roaming, at A$15.36 ($16.15) per MB, but users will often consume far more megabytes on the fast LTE networks.

This attracted the attention of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), which said Telstra should focus on the cost of roaming first, rather than the data speeds. “Consumers aren't concerned about data speeds they're getting while roaming; they're concerned about the cost. Customers continue to be caught out with high bills even while using data sparingly, and our advice to all travellers is not to use data while roaming at all,” a spokesperson told ZDnet.

This indicates that dilemmas over roaming charges will be important to operators elsewhere as they work out their 4G business cases, especially in Europe, where the EU has been progressively capping roaming charges.

Wright said that Telstra is looking at signing more agreements with other LTE operators around the world though the fragmentation of the bands in which 4G is being deployed are one barrier, as devices supporting many frequencies may be required. It has also been an early supporter of roaming using LBO (local break-out). This is enabled by the IPX backbones and Diameter signalling inherent in modern IP networks. LBO allows data traffic to be offloaded to the roaming network, rather than being routed first back to the home system.

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