Our relationship with mobile/network providers has been stand-offish. The reality is that we need our mobile devices for the ability to call, send text messages, and send/receive data.
We need a functioning telephone number, but more and more, we're paying the premium for the area code with our home network. Access to affordable and reliable data coverage typically comes at a premium. Providers are always looking for opportunities to upsell and increase the cost of their packages, making it challenging to get what you need.
How do customers determine what features they want? Luckily, competition between other networks within the same country keeps rates reasonably accountable.
But what if you don't have that leverage and plan to use your local number for international use? Welcome to roaming. More specifically, roaming charges.
Today we'll discuss the five main reasons roaming plans add up and what you can do to avoid all that.
1) Your Home network versus new networks
Let's get clear on a few things: your home network is your primary phone number and the services your provider gives you locally. Usage and billing are determined by a mix of regulations and telecom competition within your country.
When you travel abroad with your local provider, you're now utilizing data roaming. You're effectively operating as a guest outside your home network, with call, text, and data services charged at a higher billing premium.
2) No incentives for affordability when traveling abroad
Why would this be more expensive? Your local provider doesn't control the rates of the new network you're connecting to. You cannot effectively negotiate since you're using their services as a guest and have to take whatever option they give you.
Your provider will offer you a daily rate typically 10X higher than your standard plan.
3) No transparency
While your network provider can offer you expensive roaming plans, they only work if you're connected to networks that your provider supports.
The problem with transparency is that the cost structure for roaming is arbitrarily set by both your home provider and the new network you're visiting. There is no reason why call, text, or data have to be charged by the minute, character, or day.
Roaming rates will also differ by each network (more on point 5).
4) Short trips mean no leverage
Telecom providers can get away with charging exponentially higher rates because you need their services for a short time, and they know it.
There is no good reason you should be paying 10x on a roaming plan for the same services you can get locally for a fraction of the cost. It's not like your data, calls, or text messages require a premium line; it's the same infrastructure.
Long story short, you are never getting the best deal with a roaming pack.
5) Complicated arrangements
Another problem with provider transparency is your rate is determined mainly by the relationship between telecoms.
Your roaming options may be reasonable or astronomical, and you have very little control over them. If your home provider has established carrier relations with the country you're visiting, at best, you'll only have to pay a reasonable premium. In the worst case, you'll have no roaming coverage at all.
If you accidentally connect to a network not covered by your provider's roaming pass, it will cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars extra.
Read more - Case Study on Roaming Gone Wrong: Ellen Creager
How do you avoid roaming charges?
As a user, you lose out on roaming plans. You have no bargaining power, no clear explanation of costs, and no ability to pay for the services you want from your provider.
What should you do instead?
If you download an eSIM from Airalo, you'll pay exactly for what you need with a transparent cost. Our eSIMs start at $5 for 1GB; most roaming plans will be $5-10 a day.
Try your first eSIM today and skip the hassle of surprise roaming charges.