The high price of international roaming remains a problem in the mobile industry.
Mobile subscribers are often burdened with unexpected bills on their return from an international trip, due to expensive data roaming.
With prices as high as R500,000 per GB, it is easy to see why there are calls for regulations to address the issue.
The European Union has put regulations in place to make roaming more affordable in the region, and its African counterpart is calling for similar regulations.
According to an ICASA official, loopholes in regulations have led to operators taking advantage of consumers by charging them exorbitant amounts for roaming.
Ministers from 15 SADC member states want these costs to be slashed by up to 30%.
According to the ministers, the high price of roaming services is a hindrance to economic development and the movement of people within SADC.
Making it affordable
In recent years, South African operators have launched initiatives to make mobile roaming more affordable.
In September, Cell C reduced international roaming rates for 99 networks in 58 countries.
Cell C now charges a standard fee of R10 per minute for making and receiving calls, R10 per MB of data, and R2.99 per SMS on certain networks in the countries.
Vodacom’s Travel Saver service makes it possible for its contract customers to enjoy savings on voice, data, and SMS when travelling to certain countries.
Travel Saver costs R30 per day, and offers subscribers a rate of R2 per MB in all countries where Vodafone is present, and R7.50 per MB in other countries.
MTN’s HelloWorld service offers rates as low as R1 per MB in certain countries.
This does not prevent all bill shock, however, and it is advisable to avoid roaming altogether when travelling.
Great ways to prevent bill shock from your overseas trip are listed below.
1. Buy a local SIM
Purchase a local SIM when you arrive at your destination, as prepaid data can be an affordable, short-term solution.
2. Get a mobile roaming service
Companies like Execmobile offer roaming services to travellers.
3. Use Wi-Fi hotspots
Using Wi-Fi hotspots can save your mobile data.
4. Use an AlwaysOn Wi-Fi account
An AlwaysOn account allows you to access over 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots internationally.
5. Global SIM card
You can get 85% off voice and data roaming with KnowRoaming’s Global SIM Card.
6. Get a ChatSim
ChatSim offers unlimited text messages for R480 a year.