Roaming is an area that lots of people are still confused about and we’d like to try to explain what roaming is all about and how you can avoid being handed a huge bill for calls, texts and data when you travel abroad.
Roaming…what exactly does it mean? Well in simple terms, it means taking your phone abroad and using networks in the country you are visiting to enable you to use your phone as you would at home, so voice, SMS, email and the internet. Your normal mobile provider would have agreements with many networks around the world, enabling you to continue to use your SIM card abroad. The only downfall of this is the astronomical rates your normal provider charges for using your phone abroad.
So why is roaming so expensive? Well, to be quite honest, main network operators won’t and don’t reduce their roaming rates because most people won’t switch to an alternative provider when they travel abroad, and so seem to be happy to pay their astronomical rates!
A few years ago, the only way to avoid horrendous roaming bills was to simply switch your phone off and just check it occasionally to see what calls and texts you had missed. Then if there was anything urgent you could respond to it. Nowadays, it’s not necessary to switch your phone off completely. You can still make and receive calls and texts, and use data, but you just have to be a bit carefully and consider your options before you travel abroad.
Most of you will already be aware of the changes that have been happening in the EU over the past few years, and the EU Commission has managed to force MNO’s (Mobile Network Operators – such as Vodafone, EE, AT&T and Verizon) to reduce their roaming rates within the EU for voice, texting and data, and have capped rates with reduced rates coming into force every year for the past four years. As of December 2016, MNO’s will not be able to charge a different rate to customers who are travelling within the EU, they will simply be able to take their SIM and bundle deal and use it wherever they like in the EU and not incur any additional fees. All calls, SMS and data will be taken from their bundle. However, that is no so for the rest of the World and customers will still have to look at their rates for the rest of the world and see what the best options are for them.
So what are your options?
Keep your normal SIM
You could continue to use your normal SIM card from home. It’s convenient, you can continue to use the same number, it’s easy for people to contact you, you don’t have to spend time switching SIMs, copying contacts from your SIM to you phone, and you don’t have to look at alternative options. However, there are downsides and they are going to always be that you cannot get away from paying extortionate rates.
You could look at using a VoiP service for calling and messaging whilst you’re abroad. There are some fabulous services available and most people we know have an account with a major VoiP provider! You can voice call and video call, so it’s like being in the same room as the person you are talking to. Great for both business and personal use. However, to be able to use the service you need to have a data connection. When you’re on a free WiFi connection all is great, but beware of the data charges! Unless you are connected to a WiFi, you’ll be looking at substantial data roaming rates (see below for WiFi pros and cons).
Free WiFi Hotspots
Free WiFi hotspots are great, letting you catch up on all your communications, and are becoming increasingly common globally. Public places such as hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, exhibition centres and more offer free WiFi hotspots, but be mindful, for when you are out of range you can’t benefit from free data and could begin incurring roaming charges. Check your phone settings and if you are roaming, ensure you switch Data Roaming OFF in your settings to avoid any possibility of bill shock.
Buy a Local SIM
You could buy a Local SIM card with a local mobile number. Obviously the major benefits of this are that you’ll get low local domestic rates for voice, SMS and data within the country you are visiting, and you won’t have to pay to receive any calls. However, you will pay high rates to call internationally and each time you visit a new country you have to swap to a different SIM. You’ll have to keep updating friends and family who may need to contact you that you have a different number, and any credit you might have left on the SIM when you leave the country will be lost when you leave the country.
Buy a global roaming SIM
Many people are seeing the benefits of using a roaming SIM when travelling abroad. Mobile/cell companies specialising in providing roaming service generally offer voice, SMS and data service on one SIM. The coverage ranges from between 175 and 200 countries and network agreements are generally set up with multiple networks in each country that the service works in. This enables customers to use a service that remains active a lot of the time, with the SIM automatically switching to the strongest network at all times.
A roaming service provides a convenient solution to being able to remain in contact, at all times, without having to switch data off completely, and have peace of mind that you will not incur a horrendous bill for use of your phone when travelling abroad. There is no more juggling of multiple SIMs and providing numerous contact numbers so people can call or text you! One SIM, one account, one balance to manage and incredibly low call, text and data rates covering the majority, if not all, of the countries you would ever want to visit!
We have teamed up with Aether Mobile to offer you an amazing 20% off their SIM+credit packages and handsets!
Aether Mobile is a global roaming service provider, offering low cost solutions for voice, data and SMS in over 200 countries. Why not take a look at their rates so you can see just how much lower theirs are than the main network operators?