International Roaming is a type of telephone service regarding international calls and other service usages. This service enables one to make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages and emails, browse the internet while visiting another country. Therefore, a person on international roaming can call back to the home country, or call a local number in the present country or make calls to any other country.
The feature of roaming extends the coverage of the home country telecom operator’s voice and SMS service. This, in turn, enables the mobile user to continue using their home operator’s number and service in another country. However, this is possible because of the agreement between the Network provider of the present country and the home country network provider. The GSM association further standardises the technical and contractual conditions for implementing the agreement. This wholesale roaming agreement includes the technical and commercial components required to enable the service. The wholesale roaming charges directly impact the retail price a consumer pays while on roaming.
5 Most common domains of roaming services are:
- Calling: Roaming service allows one to make calls and receive calls from anywhere. This includes the home country, the present country or any other country.
- Messaging: Similar to voice, SMS roaming services include sending and receiving text messages to and from the home country, the present country and any third country.
- Emails: Roaming services include receiving and replying or forwarding any email while abroad.
- Mobile Data: Roaming services enable data accessing through mobile devices or any other device. The service includes downloading files, uploading files when travelling abroad.
- Mobile Applications: Global roaming services extend to mobile applications or apps that utilize mobile data for operating. Many mobile applications are useful while travelling internationally. To know more about them check here: Best Travel Apps – 7 Must-Have Apps for an International Traveller
How Roaming Works
When a mobile phone is switched on, the device tries to connect to any available mobile network. Similarly, when the user travels internationally, whenever the mobile phone is turned on, it tries to communicate with the mobile network available. After picking up the connection from the user’s mobile, the network confirms the registration of the mobile within its systems. Following this, the network further searches for and tries to identify the home network of the user. Depending on the roaming agreement between the home and the network of the present country, further processes take place. If there is an agreement, the visited network or the network in the present country routes the call towards an international transit network carrier. This then delivers the call to the destination network. After this entire process is complete, the destination network connects the call.
Data Roaming is where the device tries to connect to the internet while it is outside the main carrier network. Both domestic and international data roaming are similar in this aspect. In both cases, the phone connects to a new network when it is away from the primary network. The Internet is necessary for updating and using applications, internet browsing, downloading files, receiving emails and many more. While roaming helps a lot, it also adds extra charges to the base data charge and call rates. The charges also vary according to the network provider and the visiting country.
However, using Wi-Fi data does not lead to the International Roaming charge. If a person uses any Wi-Fi connection for accessing the internet while in a different country, the roaming charges do not apply. Usage of cellular networks for accessing the internet outside the home network leads to roaming charge.
Some Interesting Facts on Roaming
- In 2014, an Australian man was charged with $571000 for International Roaming. Reportedly, he lost his phone while on his European holiday. And in spite of informing the Service Provider about its stolen status, the charge was levied.
- As smartphones update the network automatically, the roaming rates are charged even for receiving voicemails. Therefore, when a person is travelling internationally, even if the phone remains switched off, roaming charges still apply.
- According to Telecompaper, only 1 in 7 people has an international sim card for communication.
- A report from information-age.com states, unmanaged global roaming on business trips cost European companies £2.4 billion a year.
- According to cio.com, US businesses pay approximately $690 as an international roaming fee per trip per person.
- The main reason as to why the big networks are reluctant to reduce their roaming charge is because of the huge amount of revenue it brings.
How to save money on Roaming
International travel and subsequently international call is a common practice in today’s world. But even after the increased demand, the roaming charges international call charges are still high.
Therefore here are some ways to reduce roaming charges:
- To reduce International Roaming charges, turn off mobile data. Use free Wi-Fi. In many places like hotels, airports free Wi-Fi is available.
- Limit mobile data usage by reducing download and live stream. These things consume much data and hence increase the roaming charge. Therefore, it is advisable to complete all the downloading activities before travelling.
- Awareness about call rates and SMS costs as well as standard roaming charges also helps a lot. This saves people from blindly using the services and regretting later on huge phone bills.
- Use international Calling or roaming apps. These apps are specially developed for the purpose of international calls and roaming. Therefore, they help to reduce the roaming charges. These apps are easily available in various app stores of IOS, Android Windows and others. These apps are user-friendly and therefore the best way to remain connected while travelling abroad.
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