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Thrifty roaming: how to use mobile phone abroad

Written By: admin on July 12, 2010 No Comment
IDontLoveMobilePhoneThese days mobile phones are more of necessity then luxury, most people carry mobile phones as very personal stuff all the time wherever they go. While using mobile phone abroad makes sense, during short travels that can be expensive beyond expectations. You have to pay for receiving calls on your mobile phone while abroad; you have to pay for international part of connection while calling party is paying for domestic part of connection! It’s even worse for mobile data plans, if you are using mobile Internet abroad you can end up with enormous bill, even few thousand USD if you don’t take care of your mobile connecting to Internet while abroad.
Before you go abroad check with your mobile phone operator weather your tariff (calling plan, package or whatever name they use) includes roaming service with countries you are traveling to and note pricing for voice, sms and Internet access service. Without knowing prices you could end up with very unpleasant surprise after you come back home, as mentioned above bill can be enormous. Best way to check with your mobile phone operator is to send them an e-mail asking for pricing information for your tariff package for countries you plan to visit, that way you’ll get something to hold on in case of unpleasant surprises.

Before going abroad you should disable voice mail service, in case you leave it on your operator is going to charge you international roaming prices even for domestic calls to your voice mail while you have to pay additional international voice call price to listen to your voice mailbox messages; better turn voice mailbox off and you’ll be notified of missed calls free of charge.

Receiving SMS messages abroad is free of charge (you could ask to double check that but I’ve never heard of some operator charging reception of SMS messages abroad) and in general sending SMS messages is way cheaper than calling back home (in case you send only few short messages). That way you’ll be using your phone as “pager” and be accessible to your family and friends all the time without risk of going over budget.

In case you need voice communication you could use Skype, GoogleTalk or similar VoIP services, better yet your family can call your hotel room or some other land line number for fraction of mobile voice call price while in roaming. Of course, you can send your land line phone number by SMS…

One more thing to do is to check your mobile Internet access, at the moment it is usually so expensive to use mobile phone Internet access abroad that it is better to disable it. Especially iPhone and other smartphones can have lot of traffic that would be unreasonably charged while in roaming; if you must have mobile phone Internet access check Blackberry tariffs. While at home they are usually flat rate for e-mails and Internet access while some operators offer flat
rate for e-mail and even Internet access in roaming for additional charge.

To summarize, before you go abroad with your mobile phone you should:

  1. Request information about roaming prices by e-mail from your mobile phone operator
  2. Disable voice mailbox in roaming
  3. Disable Internet access in roaming
  4. Use SMS messages;
    – you receive SMS messages free of charge
    – arrange VoIP call-back by sending SMS message
  5. Ask friends and family to call you, It’s better to be called then to call while abroad

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