24 global wireless operators agree on data roaming alert mechanisms, do nothing about actual roaming rates

GSMA, also known as the entity that produces Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo each year, seems to be onto something. And by "something," we mean "getting 24 carriers around the globe to agree on a single point." That's no easy feat, mind you, and the latest release from Shanghai asserts that 24 operator groups have agreed to implement new measures in order to better inform jetsetters about data roaming rates when they land. America Movil, AT&T, China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom-Orange, Hutchison 3 Group, SoftBank Mobile Corp., Verizon Communications, VimpelCom and Vodafone Group (among others) are all onboard, with the following measures to go into effect by the end of 2012. For one, texts will be sent to remind customers of their data roaming tariffs when they arrive in another country, and there will also be a monthly data roaming spending limit paired with the ability to "temporarily suspend" one's data when usage exceeds said threshold. Of course, alerting users to how they're about to be hosed only seems like part of the issue. Till that's addressed, we'll keep carrying an Xcom Global MiFi or hunting for a local SIM upon arrival.

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GSMA Launches Data Roaming Transparency Initiative

New Measures Aim to Help Consumers Better Understand and Manage Data Usage, Addressing Head-On the Issue of Bill Shock

SHANGHAI, June 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- At the Mobile Asia Expo, the GSMA announced that it has launched an initiative that will provide consumers greater visibility of their roaming charges and usage of mobile data services when travelling abroad. At a meeting held this week in Shanghai, 24 operator groups, including America Movil, AT&T, Axiata Group Berhad, Bharti Airtel, Ltd., China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom-Orange, Hutchison 3 Group, KT Corporation, MTS, Qtel, SK Telecom, Smart Communications, Inc., SoftBank Mobile Corp., Tata Teleservices Limited, Telecom Italia Group, Telefonica, Telekom Austria Group, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, Verizon Communications, VimpelCom and Vodafone Group agreed to undertake a number of measures which will help mobile subscribers better understand their data roaming charges and more effectively manage their use of data services.

"A number of our operator members are already implementing sound transparency practices, benefitting more than a billion subscribers worldwide," said Franco Bernabe, Chairman of the GSMA and Chairman and CEO of Telecom Italia Group. "The initiative announced today will help to promote an even broader adoption of principles that will offer a more transparent and uniform experience for billions of consumers, wherever they travel."

The GSMA is committed to working with mobile operators worldwide to adopt the following measures:

Sending text messages to remind customers of their data roaming tariffs when they arrive in another country and turn on their mobile device;
Implementing a monthly data roaming spending limit to help consumers manage their roaming bill and sending alerts when their data usage approaches the limit; and
Temporarily suspending data service when usage exceeds the spending limit.

In the first phase of this initiative, these operators and their group subsidiaries have agreed to implement these data roaming transparency measures by the end of 2012, covering more than 4 billion mobile connections worldwide. The GSMA will also work to promote the adoption of these guidelines across its full membership base of nearly 800 mobile operators globally. Further, the GSMA will develop a trust mark that will identify to consumers that their mobile operator is implementing these measures.

About the GSMA

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world's mobile operators, as well as more than 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment organisations. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as the Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo.

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at www.gsma.com or Mobile World Live, the online portal for the mobile communications industry, at www.mobileworldlive.com.