Addressing the High Price of International Mobile Roaming (IMR) in Southeast Asia
33 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2020
Date Written: February 4, 2019
International Mobile Roaming (IMR) is a service whereby a user who subscribes to mobile telecommunications services in one country is able to use his or her mobile device in other countries. For many years, governments around the world have expressed concerns that the price of IMR services seemed to be unreasonably high in comparison with the price of domestic telecommunications services, with demonstrable negative impact on societal welfare. These concerns have led to numerous regulatory proceedings, and to wholesale and retail IMR price controls in the European Union and also among the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Other regions have implemented various arrangements that seek to lower the cost of IMR, but in most cases it is too early to assess the results of those arrangements.
Our focus in this paper is on the ten Southeast Asian countries that comprise the regional organisation ASEAN: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. In the ASEAN region, high prices for roaming have been a concern for many years; however, concrete measures to address high prices have been rather limited.
This paper seeks (1) to provide guidance to regulatory authorities and network operators in the ASEAN region based on experience in other regions, especially Europe and the GCC; and (2) to provide context for these discussions based both on economic theory and on global experience.
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