As a general rule, our major mobile operators don't handle international roaming well. Burn through your data on Telstra 4G roaming in Hong Kong and you're up for at least $50 per second. Optus is little better. Vodafone's Roam Like Home plans go a small way to fixing the problem, but there's a simpler solution that European parliament is about to pass — no roaming fees whatsoever.
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We do admit that Australian telcos have made huge leaps and bounds in recent years when it comes to international roaming fees; Vodafone and Optus and Telstra are a lot better with roaming data fees, although the cost of calls and messages is still not great.
But things still aren't perfect. If you're travelling internationally, often an independent carrier like Globalgig is your best bet — when it comes to data, at least. As it stands, making and taking calls internationally, sending messages and checking your voicemail is an expensive process that some businesses can justify, others can't, and most private customers have no hope in hell of affording.
If you lived in a European country, you'd be laughing at Australia right now. The European Parliament has just voted to scrap any and all roaming fees for using a phone registered on one country's network within another country in the EU — an O2 mobile from the UK will work on Spain's Telefonica as if it was still at home. No roaming charges whatsoever.
The new laws still have to be ratified by European Union member governments, but the huge support for the reforms — 534 votes for to 25 against — should mean that it's an easy sell. Some telcos might not be happy with the new limit on their potential revenues, but if all things go to plan, after 15 December the countries across Europe will be the world's gold standard for mobile network user-friendliness. [BBC]