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 Friday, June 22, 2012

Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has urged all mobile operators to implement fair information and service practices after some customers were surprised by large bills for international roaming, reports The Bangkok Post. The NBTC introduced its 'mobile passport', a handbook it advises mobile users to read before they go abroad. Commissioner Prawit Leesathapornwongsa said the measures are meant to stop so-called 'bill shock'. To raise public awareness of bill shock, the NBTC has teamed up with the Consular Affairs Department, Thai Airways International and Airports of Thailand to launch a data-roaming campaign to inform mobile users about how to surf the internet safely while travelling.

Leesathapornwongsa said more than 100 customers have been hit by surprisingly large bills on international roaming services over the past two years, with costs totalling THB 4 million. Complaints from AIS customers numbered 55 cases, with the highest bill THB 270,000. DTAC had 34 complaints, with the highest bill at THB 120,000, while True Move recorded 28 complaints with the highest bill at THB 294,900.

The NBTC suggested international roaming users select tariff plans that fit their usage and select an operator before they go abroad. Mobile users can choose VoIP services, cheap alternative systems or buy local Sim cards abroad. Leesathapornwongsa said the NBTC wants clearer information for customers from operators about what they charge for services locally and abroad and greater protection for consumers from hefty data charges.

The NBTC prohibits operators from automatically activating international roaming for customers without their permission. AIS vice-president for international roaming Weerachai Patcharopartwong said it uses a centralised control system so customers do not have to worry about roaming costs. A warning message is issued when customers' data roaming usage exceeds their package limits. For unlimited data roaming users, the company will automatically skip roaming services not included in their plan. AIS will make roaming-limit services automatic this month to reduce the problem of bill shock. They are currently optional and require customers to sign up ahead of time, said Patcharopartwong.

Source: Telecom Paper.