The danger of billing out of data bundles – Roaming

Roaming occurs when a mobile phone is used outside the range of its home network and connects to another available cell network that is abroad. For example, if you live in South Africa and call your family in New Zealand, it is an International Roaming call. Roaming is not just restricted to traveling in another country and connecting with family back in your home town.

In my last article, we looked at out of bundle costs that are caused by going outside of your allocated data bundle and how overwhelming those bill shocks can be. I provided a few tips on how to manage your data cost more effectively. Here are some tips on how to manage your roaming costs while at home and abroad.

Research is required to determine what the cheapest network is to roam on when you are in a different country and then, manually connect to the cheapest network as soon as you arrive. The roaming rates in many cases vary drastically, depending on which network your phone connects to. Roaming rates can cost you up to R300 per MB and R27.64 per voice minute.

For example, if you have an MTN SIM card and are roaming in the United States, connecting to AT&T, you can pay a cool R1/MB for data roaming, but if you happen to connect to the T-Mobile network, you’ll pay a ridiculous R225/MB for data roaming!

While some countries have more reasonable data roaming rates, in countries like Thailand data will cost you roughly R120.27/MB on Telkom to R300.00/MB on MTN. For interest sake, a couple of Instagram sessions could easily cost a few thousand Rand!

It is best to rather turn off data roaming when it’s not 100% necessary and use an alternative connection such as WIFI where it is available.

How can I manage my roaming costs effectively;

· Purchase a roaming SIM for international calls and when traveling abroad as this can save you 50%-80% on roaming charges.

· Before traveling aboard, you should ensure that international roaming has been activated on your SIM

· Make sure that your Voicemail is disabled when traveling abroad – if you don’t take the call and it goes to voicemail, you’ll end up paying for that call

· When you get to the O.R Tambo airport you can connect to the ACSA Network and you will have 1GB Free data for 4 hours

· Consider getting a local Prepaid SIM card when you arrive at your destination

· Avoid receiving and making calls unless necessary, rather connect to the hotel, airport, restaurant’s WIFI network and make free calls using Skype, WhatsApp or Facebook calls.


Vickie Janssen

Vickie Janssen is a professional that assists corporates and SME’s optimise costs through technology-based solutions.  She is a Technical Solutions Engineer at Agora Tec with many years of telecommunications and entrepreneurial experience that have given her a solid understanding of business.

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