The GSM Association (GSMA) is floating a new initiative it says will provide consumers greater visibility of their roaming charges and usage of mobile data services when traveling abroad.

Agreeing on this measure this week in Shanghai were América Móvil, AT&T, Axiata Group Berhad, Bharti Airtel Ltd., China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom-Orange, Hutchison 3 Group, KT Corporation, MTS, Qtel, SK Telecom, Smart Communications, Inc., SoftBank Mobile Corp., Tata Teleservices Limited, Telecom Italia Group, Telefónica, Telekom Austria Group, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, Verizon Communications, VimpelCom and Vodafone Group.  ??

“A number of our operator members are already implementing sound transparency practices, benefiting more than a billion subscribers worldwide,” comments Franco Bernabè, GSMA chairman and chairman/CEO of Telecom Italia Group. “The initiative announced today will help to promote an even broader adoption of principles that will offer a more transparent and uniform experience for billions of consumers, wherever they travel.” ?

Included in the new initiative are the following best practices for operators:

• Send text messages to remind customers of their data roaming tariffs when they arrive in another country and turn on their mobile devices; ?
• Implement a monthly data roaming spending limit to help consumers manage their roaming bill and send alerts when their data usage approaches the limit; and ?
• Temporarily suspend data service when usage exceeds the spending limit. ?

In the first phase of this initiative, the 24 operators and their group subsidiaries have agreed to implement these data roaming transparency measures by the end of 2012, covering more than 4 billion mobile connections worldwide. The GSMA says it also will work to promote the adoption of these guidelines across its full membership of nearly 800 mobile operators globally. Further, the GSMA will develop a trust mark that will identify to consumers that their mobile operator is implementing these measures.

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