Telstra iPhone: $13 per GB or $15,000 per GB? Your choice

A welcome text from Telstra the other day – my iPhone data plan has been upgraded fro free to 9 GB from 3GB. That’s great – full prices are here.

But sadly I have data switched off at the moment, as that iPhone is not in Australia, but New Zealand. I have not cracked the iPhone, and I am too cheap to pay the roaming fees of…well, that’s when it gets difficult.

Try to find the cost of data roaming in NZ on Telstra’s website. Go on. Use Telstra’s own search and links – don’t cheat and use Google.

I failed.

So I tried Telstra’s online chat, and after a short wait (much easier to wait online than on a phone) I had this conversation.

Malinda: Welcome to online assistance. You are chatting with Malinda NB:This Chat is being recorded and may be monitored for coaching purposes. If you do not wish to proceed, please close this window. {I’m recording it as well}
Malinda: The rates discussed in this Livechat are correct as at today’s date, but may vary from time to time.  Any variation will be done in accordance with the General Terms of Our Customer Terms which can be found by visiting

Malinda: Hi, how may I help you with your enquiry today?
you: Hi can you tell me the cost of data roaming in New Zealand. I have an iPhone

Malinda: So I can provide you with the information you need and to ensure I provide you with the best solution do you mind if I ask you a few questions? {actually yes – I’ve already asked for what I need and provided the information required. Actually I am impressed with chat as you can control the conversation a lot more than on the phone}

you: I just need the  cost of data roaming in New Zealand on my iPhone. Proving hard to find on your website.

you: hello? {Malinda had dropped off for a minute or two}

Malinda: Yes thank you, I am just looking the information up for you.

you: is where I started…
then it gets slow..
{I was also searching for it, and failed. Malinda took a little while longer but succeeded}

Malinda: Data usage whilst overseas will cost you $15 per M/B.

you: that’s $15000 per GB right? {quick as a flash – multiplication by 1000 has always been a strong point for me}

you: While I pay $119 for 9GB a month in Australia. {as have snarky comments}

Malinda: As you will be roaming, it does not fall under your Data pack. As you are using another network

you: So how can I pay reasonable data fees for my iPhone when I am in New Zealand? {It’s a simple question, and I knew the answer}

Malinda: As above unfortunately the data charges are $15 per M/B if you are roaming. {Rhe really disturbing answer – you cannot}

you: Thanks Malinda. Could you please pass up the chain at Telstra that obviouly $15000 per GB is completey unacceptable, especially for Australia/NZ – lots of commuting between the two countries. {good luck with that}

Malinda: As your not using our network, that is what the other providers are charging Telstra for you to use that network, {I guess that’s a no on passing up the foodchain}
Malinda: Whilst I have you here, do you have any other Telecommunication services you would like us to look at today to make sure they are on the right plans?
{please. stop selling. I’m not in a good frame of mind to be sold to.}

you: Nonsense – Try using Vodafone NZ phone in Australia on Telstra – same deal.  Sort it out and customers will use it.

you: no thank you.

Malinda: I hope you have enjoyed using this Live Chat service. Please feel free to use this service again in the future for any Mobile, Internet or Fixed line enquires. Have A Great Day.

you: Thanks – cheers

So there you have it – $119/9= about $13 per GB in Australia and AU$15,000 per GB in New Zealand. Meanwhile it’s cheaper to fly business class from Perth to Auckland than it is from Perth to Melbourne, but don’t turn on your phone.

So I ask – How f#$%@g dumb are the people at Telstra, Vodafone NZ,  Vodafone Australia, Telecom, Optus and so forth?

This is like texting – when you drop the costs of interconnect then usage and revenue rises for everyone.

Revenue from foreign folk roaming in your network will raise, revenue from locals roaming afar will rise, and, more interesting, revenue from domestic data will raise – as the overall utility of data is now much higher. Billing issues will fa dramatically as the $2000 roaming surprises disappear.

Really – this stuff is not hard, just start talking sense to each other. Keep the costs sky high and we will just keep getting pissed off at your idiocy and using every means we can to avoid using our mobile devices for data.

Meanwhile a little Government head bashing to Telstra and Telecom in particular may be in the public’s interest.

Published by Lance Wiggs


4 replies on “Telstra iPhone: $13 per GB or $15,000 per GB? Your choice”

  1. Hi Lance,

    I was interested to read your article on $15k/GB for Telstra data roaming. I do the reverse commute, AKL->Sydney once or twice per month. My poison if choice is a Blackberry curve, which I continue to monitor for offline email and sms alarms whilst in Australia. I try to make/take my most of my voice calls on a cheapo Nokia with a Telstra SIM.

    I regularly get market promos from Voda when in Aus advising me the roaming data rates are only $10/MB. Woohoo, only $10k/GB. In fact, because I’m on a Blackberry I get charged $30/MB. Why? Because Voda can get away with it. Laying complaints with Voda customer service doesn’t help either. They explain that it is and ask me if I want to raise/escalate my problem to a higher level (response time 5 working days was it?). No-one’s ever got back to me.

    Rgds, Bill


  2. I regularly have the same issues between NZ, AU, Europe and the US. Best solution so far:

    – NZ contract with VF on my iphone, occasionally using the SIM in a wireless 3G modem domestically.
    – AU prepaid SIM card from 3, they have prepaid 3G braodband (29 AU$ per 2 GB)
    – German prepaid SIM card from – same deal, they have 3G broadband flatrates over there for a fixed price per month.

    Give up dreaming of low roaming fees – it won’t happen as there’s no international jurisdiction forcing carriers to offer it. Just looking at roaming between VF NZ and VF AU is a joke.


  3. Hi Lance (long time no see in Sydney).

    Welcome to the wonderful world of roaming. I share the pain, but actually disagree with you about the cause and solution.

    All carriers do this, they all want inbound roamers, outbound complaints are the price of getting the inbound roamers.

    Trouble is, reducing the price will not stimulate revenue/usage. The biggest experiment on this is intra-EU regulation that has (twice) forced down roaming rates. The EU carriers have seen little actual volume increase as a result, and certainly not enough to compensate for the price drop.

    I’m self-interested in this, as I’m involved with in alternate roaming provision. So maybe take my words with some reservation, but I think you’ll find I’m right. High roaming data prices are here to stay for a while, I’m afraid….


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