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What is International Data Roaming?

international data roaming

What is International Data Roaming?

What is international roaming?

International roaming is based on the same principle as national or domestic roaming in that a customer has switched from their primary network to a new one due to being geographically out of range. Some of the major wireless carriers have roaming agreements with other networks in many countries, but customers generally have to pay for the privilege of using these international roaming services.

Most travelers expect to bring their cell phones on international trips and utilize them in the same manner as they would at home. However, international roaming rules and rates can be complicated to understand and can vary depending on the wireless carrier.

Therefore, travelers need to research and contact their wireless providers to prepare for international roaming charges and prevent interruption or absence of service during their trip. Speaking directly to your domestic network service representative allows you to ask all relevant questions and receive clear and accurate responses, so there is little to no policy or rate confusion.

Here are the recommended steps to avoid any international roaming issues:

  1. Research international roaming agreements with your wireless carrier: Your service provider can confirm whether your cell phone is network compatible and will operate in the country you plan to visit. In addition, it is vital to research which functions will be operational such as voice calls, text messaging, and data usage.
  2. Check roaming rates with your wireless carrier: If your phone is operational during your international travel, you can activate international roaming before your trip. Since most domestic service plans do not cover international roaming, higher usage rates may apply to all cell phone functions, including communication and internet use. Your service provider can confirm rates and options.
  3. Track all international roaming usage when traveling: Your service provider can confirm how to track usage while abroad to remain within your plan and avoid additional penalties and charges due to international roaming.

Research and communication with your wireless carrier are the best ways to prepare for using your cell phone during international travel. This will alleviate any misinformation as to how your cellular service is expected to operate abroad, as well as prevent any unexpected service problems or international roaming charges.

International roaming with iPhones

Before traveling internationally with an iPhone, it is best to find out about the connectivity and capabilities in the area of destination. Apple provides such information for all iPhone models and their potential for use in other countries.

Most iPhone wireless carriers have international plans for users to purchase when outside their in-network areas. This allows iPhone owners to use their phones abroad just as they do at home, but usually with a per-day roaming charge. It is recommended to contact the cellular provider’s customer service to let them know where you will be traveling so that they can assist you in finding the best international plan available.

For those iPhone users who wish to buy an international SIM card, it is essential to know before travel whether your iPhone is unlocked or not. A locked iPhone indicates that the phone is “locked” to the carrier and cannot be used with a different SIM card plan

If this is the case, you can call your carrier and request the phone to be unlocked. Some services charge an unlocking fee, so it is advisable to mention that you are traveling and not leaving the network. This may help avoid an unlocking fee. Once the phone is unlocked, other SIM cards can be purchased and used.

Cell phone users with iPhones can also rely on WIFI sources during international travel rather than purchasing any international roaming plans. The key is to determine how much travelers intend to use their phone when abroad and then research options ahead of international travel, so they are prepared and not inconvenienced by unexpected roaming issues or charges.

International roaming with Android phones

Many of the same international roaming principles for iPhones apply to those for Android phones. The primary difference between Android and iPhones is the operating system (OS) which is the software that allows the device to work.

As every Android phone manufacturer may use a different loader, skin, or launcher, Android phone users should contact their domestic wireless provider to research and gain information regarding phone connectivity and capability during international travel. This would pertain to international plans and SIM cards as well.

Android phones contain a roaming icon in the status area of the screen that appears when the phone is outside the in-network signal area


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