Optus cuts global roaming prices, introduces flat-price travel pack

Optus has today announced that it will cut the price of global roaming on its mobile plans

Optus has today announced that it will cut the price of global roaming on its mobile plans from mid-next month, in a bid to target frequent international travellers.

Dubbed the Optus Travel Range, the new global roaming plans are broken down into two zones, depending on location. The telco's previous global roaming plans were divided into five different zones.

The new Optus Travel Rate zone 1 covers Asia, Europe, the UK, the US, Canada, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. In this zone, calls will be charged at a flat rate of $1 per minute, SMS messages at 50 cents each, and data at 50 cents per megabyte (MB).

Optus Travel Rate zone 2 covers Africa, South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. Rates in this zone are more expensive than zone 1, with calls charged at a flat rate of $2 per minute, SMS messages at $1 each, and data billed at $1 per MB.

Both Zone 1 and 2 rates cover local and international calls, as well as incoming calls while you are roaming.

Optus' managing director of consumer, Vicky Brady, said the new roaming plans are both fairer and simplier than the company's previous offerings.

"Optus understands that people want to use their phones while travelling, so we’ve made our prices fairer and simpler for the whole world. We want our customers to feel confident in using their phones overseas and know that they don’t have to worry about their phone bill when they return."

In addition to the new standard roaming charges, Optus will also make available an optional Travel Pack for consumers who are travelling to countries in zone 1. The $10 per day bolt-on pack provides unlimited calls and SMS messages and 30MB of data.

Once consumers use the daily 30MB limit on the Travel Pack, they will be charged at the new zone 1 data rate of 50 cents per MB.

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) spokesman Asher Moses said the new Optus Travel Range plans are significantly cheaper than previous offerings, but buying a local SIM card while travelling is still a better option.

"The new $10 and $5 a day roaming offerings from Optus and Vodafone are significantly cheaper than the exorbitant charges they slugged consumers with previously, however it is likely that buying a local SIM card at their destination will still be a much cheaper option for travellers."

"Optus’ $10 a day bolt on would mean paying $70 a week extra while on holiday and that’s on top of your normal plan fees. Optus’ deal without a bolt on still has data charges that are significantly more expensive than what you would pay as part of your domestic Optus plan."

ACCAN also said that despite recent price cuts by both Optus and Vodafone, global roaming remains too expensive.

"Global roaming charges have for too long been way too high and do not come close to reflecting the true cost of providing the service. The excuse from providers that they are simply passing on the costs from international carriers has never been convincing, as virtually zero transparency is provided as to how such exorbitant fees are derived."

The new Optus Travel Range roaming plans will be made available from mid-September, but the optional, add-on Optus Travel Pack won't be available until November.

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