ACMA proposes changes to international roaming alert rules The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has opened consultation on its Telecommunications (International Mobile Roaming) Industry Standard Variation 2016 (No. 1) (IMR Variation), which contains proposed amendments to the existing Telecommunications (International Mobile Roaming) Industry Standard 2013 (IMR Standard). The current IMR Standard sets out key consumer protection measures that give overseas travellers tools to avoid ‘bill shock’ from international mobile roaming. These protections include: notification by SMS to all customers on arrival at an overseas destination warning them that significantly higher charges for roaming services may apply; providing information to customers about how to stop international roaming, at low cost, at any time, including from an overseas location; sending customers SMS notifications that set out pricing information for using a range of roaming services; and sending SMS notifications to customers in $100 increments for data usage, and when the customer reaches 50, 85 and 100 percent of the included value in a purchased travel pack. The changes proposed by ACMA in the IMR Variation will: allow service providers to send the mandatory on-arrival roaming alerts in one SMS, rather than in multiple texts. The alerts must still contain information about the activation of roaming, maximum charges for calls, messages and data, and how to stop roaming; extend the compliance date for mobile virtual network operators to provide charging and spend management information from 23 May 2016 to January 2019; enable service providers to choose the methods they offer to stop roaming (though these methods must still be at low or no cost and easily accessed), replacing the current requirement to offer a customer the option to discontinue roaming by calling an Australian phone number or visiting a service provider's website; and allow service providers to offer customers the ability to opt-out or opt back in to usage alerts while overseas (including the ability to see and change their choice at any time). However, making opt-out the default at the start of any mobile contract will not be permitted. According to ACMA, the intent of these changes is to provide more flexibility to the industry while maintaining consumer protections, taking into account developments in the mobile roaming services market and reduced complaint numbers related to roaming (for example, there has been a 65 percent drop in the number of complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about mobile roaming issues between the September quarter in 2013 and the September quarter in 2015). Submissions about the IMR Variation must be made to ACMA by 30 March 2016. For more information, please contact Anne-Marie Allgrove, Toby Patten, Matthew Dempsey or Emma Burn.