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Latin American wireless carriers collaborate to improve roaming cost transparency

Latin American mobile network operators (MNOs) have joined together to launch a data roaming transparency plan that will provide consumers greater visibility of their roaming charges and mobile data usage when travelling within the region and abroad. A total of 40 MNOs, which account for more than a half billion mobile subscribers in the region, are supporting the initiative, including América Móvil, Antel, Entel Chile, Millicom, Oi, Orange, Telecom Italia and Telefónica.

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Roaming services in Latin America have been growing steadily, following retail price reductions of up to 80% since 2007 in some countries, through an increasing range of innovative price plans and offering additional services to prepaid customers. However, the availability of roaming services is still constrained by several factors, including double taxation that can increase end-user prices by up to 40%.

According to the mobile operator organization GSMA, all of the participating MNOs agreed to undertake several measures in the countries where they operate to help mobile subscribers better understand their data roaming charges and more effectively manage their usage when visiting other countries.

This initiative follows the commitment to combat mobile phone theft earlier this year, when carriers agreed to collaborate with regional governments on initiatives designed to reduce mobile phone theft and related crime. This voluntary initiative of GSMA-member MNOs aimed to enable the sharing of information to block stolen devices, and make their trafficking and reuse across the region more difficult.

Under the data roaming transparency plan, the GSMA has committed to working with MNOs in Latin America to adopt several measures, such as sending text messages to remind customers of data roaming tariffs when they arrive in another country and first turn on their mobile device; implementing a monthly data roaming spending limit to help consumers manage their roaming bill; sending alerts when their data usage approaches the limit; and temporarily suspending data service when usage exceeds the spending limit.

The GSMA noted that they have agreed to start these data roaming transparency measures immediately, with full implementation of the plan by the end of the first half of 2013.

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