The days of travelling overseas and being unreachable are long gone. Nowadays, we like to stay in touch with friends and family via text message, phone calls and social media. But using your phone without a roaming package can cost.
Here’s a guide to roaming and how to ensure your holiday is not ruined by your mobile phone bill.
What is international roaming?
By definition, roaming means the use of a mobile phone outside of its local area. That means the moment you step off UAE soil, you are officially roaming and you will be charged extra, on top of your regular call charges, for every call or message that you send or that comes to you as your phone has to connect to a local network carrier.
For example, if a friend calls you from home while you are travelling, they will pay the local rate and you will pay the tariff of that call being routed from your home network to an international network. So you are paying the extra to receive the call, not your friend.
Unless you change the settings on your phone to Wi-Fi, your phone will also continue to update all your applications on your phone, incurring charges all the time. It means you will be charged extra for every MB of data you use whether it is on WhatsApp, social media or downloading files.
How to avoid paying roaming charges
Change the settings on your phone to Wi-Fi, turning data roaming off. If you don’t, your phone will continue to update all your applications on your phone, incurring charges all the time. It means you will be charged extra for every MB of data you use whether it is on WhatsApp, social media or downloading files.
To avoid paying extra for a local phone at your destination, again, you could switch the settings to Wi-Fi by turning data roaming off.
Your bill can end up being extremely high, if you have no time to arrange roaming package. In those cases, consider buying a local number with data services, or subscribe to roaming packages over the phone.
Pick the right roaming package
If you want to have the same access to your smartphone that you do at home, then you need to sign up for a roaming package with the first step to compare all the roaming options on the market.
You can sign up for an add-on roaming package to suit the length of your trip from daily to monthly and the amount of data you are likely to use. And, remember, roaming does not need to be an excessively expensive.
While you can pay AED 299/month for Etisalat’s BlackBerry Global that allows roaming usage of up to 200MB, the provider’s new Postpaid-Make Your Own plan, charges an initial fee of AED50 and enables you to pick what is most important to you. For example, for an extra AED 50 a month, you can get 50 roaming incoming call minutes.
You can even check if providers offer roaming packages in the country you are travelling to. It is also wise to see which telecom provider Du or Etisalat partners up with and whether the city or town you are visiting has a good connection to that provider.
Du has a handy roaming table that lets you see exactly how much you will pay for calls and messages for both post and pre-paid plans in the country you are travelling to. They also alert you to the fact roaming rates can vary depending on the local provider you tie up with so beware.
Remember, even if you have a roaming package, it;s still worth switching to Wi-Fi whenever you can. Most hotels offer Wi-Fi and there are numerous hotspots you can tap into which will save on roaming charges.
Those on pay-as-you-go packages which rely on Wi-Fi to download data, could save by trying to avoid using their phone to make calls or send text messages, as the charges will be much higher. In a Wi-Fi zone, they can continue to use the Internet as normal.
Regular travelers, might benefit from having a roaming option as part of their post-paid package with their network provider rather than just as an add-on. But make sure you pick a cost-effective option that makes sense locally as well as overseas.