By Ben Simmons
Governments should do more to boost competition in international mobile roaming markets in order to drive down the high prices being paid by consumers and businesses, says the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
To help them, the OECD has laid out a series of measures that governments could take that would encourage effective competition, raise consumer awareness and protection and ensure fairer prices.
The mobile phone sector is considered generally competitive in domestic markets. But for users travelling abroad, OECD analysis says roaming prices are excessive compared to the costs incurred by operators. A recent OECD report revealed that prices of up to USD 25 were being paid for downloading 1 MB of data while roaming abroad.
The OECD Recommendation says that promoting transparent information on roaming prices would protect consumers and businesses. A financial limit for data roaming services would also help.
It is essential to remove barriers that prevent mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) from having access to wholesale mobile services on local conditions and on fair and reasonable terms, says the OECD. These MVNOs should also benefit from regulated wholesale roaming rates between operators.
If other measures are not effective, governments should consider price regulation for roaming services. Wholesale roaming services could be regulated by means of bilateral or multilateral wholesale agreements with mutually established price caps.
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