Monday, 06 May 2019 10:44

Australians hit by $1.4 billion in international roaming costs: report Featured

Australians hit by $1.4 billion in international roaming costs: report Image Yongkiet at

Australians have spent $1.4 billion in international roaming fees, prompting a call from one of the country’s larger telcos for travellers to review their phone plans ahead of the businest period for overseas travel, and to take steps to help avoid roaming charges.

According to research carried out for Vodafone, Australia’s third largest telco behind Telstra and Optus, five  million Aussies (41% of smartphone owners) had been hit with international roaming fees.

The research, conducted by YouGov Galaxy, also found that 63% of smartphone users were concerned about the prospect of returning home to a large bill, while 1.5 million smartphone owners had taken the extreme step of leaving their mobile phone at home when they headed overseas.

Key statistics revealed by the research also include:

  • Gen X (51%) and millennials (45%) are much more likely to have been charged fees than Baby Boomers (29%);
  • The average international roaming fee per person is $290, which equates to more than $1.4 billion in fees; and
  • Around 250,000 Aussies claim to have each paid more than $1000 in international roaming fees.

Vodafone chief commercial officer Ben McIntosh says that people should be able to use their phone overseas as they would in Australia, “with the same sense of freedom and flexibility”.

“Only 3% of smartphone users will continue to use their phone as normal, with the vast majority taking steps to avoid international roaming, the most popular being restricting their phone to be used with Wi-Fi (41%).

“There is no reason for travellers to fear bill shock while they are out of the country. We encourage people to review the international roaming charges with their current carrier – the vast majority of travellers should not be paying more than $5 extra a day to access their phone as they would at home.”

Mcintosh says that while each telco in Australia provides their customers with international roaming options, with Vodafone’s Roaming, consumers can use their data, call and text inclusions just as they would in Australia, in over 80 countries around the world.

McIntosh provided key stats about Vodafone roamers including:

  • China is the number one country where Australians use $5 Roaming.
  • Out of those who use $5 Roaming, New South Welshman (37%) and Victorians (26%) are the most active users (data 18 January to 18 March).
  • People aged between 18-24 use roaming for the shortest duration, yet they use the most data when travelling abroad.
  • Vodafone roaming customers used $5 Roaming on average 11 times in the last 14 months.

And Mcintosh offered tips to avoid bill shock while overseas, including using a smartphone or telco provider app to track data usage, to be aware of apps such as maps that use location services which are heavy on data use, and to use trusted Wi-Fi such as the network at one's accommodation to conserve data.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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