Anybody who's used their smartphone overseas will know how expensive Australia's data roaming rates can be.
But now it's official: the sky-high rates charged by Optus, Telstra and Vodafone have made Australia the third most expensive country in the world when it comes to data roaming, with Aussie travellers paying an average of just under US$12 per MB (taking into account prepaid discounts from telcos).
A report from the OECD shows that only Japanese and Chilean travellers pay more for data roaming than Aussies.
And even though Japanese data roaming rates are close to US$13/MB, mobile network NTT Docomo offers a 20MB per day roaming plan for $US11.60 per day to its domestic data subscribers – working out to a low 58c/MB.
Vodafone offers Australia's cheapest prepaid data roaming plan at $1.60/MB if a customer pre-purchases 200MB. At that rate, 20MB would cost $33 -- showing that even Japanese data roaming, which is notionally more expensive than Australia, is ultimately better value.
The full OECD report is available online.
As Australian Business Traveller reported recently, Optus is by far Australia's worst network when it comes to squeezing customers for data roaming fees.
Optus charges a flat $20/MB for casual data roaming usage worldwide, and the cheapest rate it offers to people pre-arranging a special data pack is $9.09/MB.
Telstra is second most expensive at $15/MB, but it offers pre-arranged data roaming packs that can bring the cost down to $2.67/MB.
Vodafone's data roaming is cheapest for casual usage at $10 per MB (though that's still completely unaffordable given how quickly computers and smart phone apps can chew through data these days). It offers pre-arranged data roaming packs from $1.65/MB.
However, Australian travellers need not pay data roaming fees -- there are now numerous services providing affordable data roaming rates: