What is the meaning of data roaming? What can be done to reduce data charges while roaming abroad?

While roaming, mobile subscribers can access the Internet and make and receive VoIP calls. In order to provide data or Internet services, mobile network operators use GPRS. Mobile operators define the amount of data used in bytes (KB, MB, GB, etc.).

What is an Intenet pack?

To provide Internet, an operator assigns a data bundle to a mobile subscriber (identified by IMSI) during Internet recharge, which has a volume and validity, such as 1GB of data with one-month validity.

Mobile internet usage resulted in a volume reduction of units relative to the initial volume. If you browse a page that is 10KB in size, the available data limit is reduced to 10 KB.

Data Recharge and Roaming.

Recharges may be for domestic or international data usage. For instance, if a T-Mobile USA subscriber is in New York, one MB of data costs.025 USD, whereas if the same mobile user is in the United Kingdom, each MB of data costs .2 USD.

International data roaming plans are significantly more expensive than domestic ones. Thus, it is critical to understand how to save data while roaming.

This tutorial will explain how mobile data works over a GSM network and possible ways to reduce data charges while roaming.

Why is Data Roaming (mainly International) costly?

Data roaming means that a mobile user is not in the home network. The fundamental tenet is that the more resources you consume, the more you pay.

The same is true for data roaming. A mobile subscriber connects to the mobile network to access the data. In the case of a local SIM (for example, a T-Mobile subscriber in New York), network packets and data bytes are used to attach and access data using only a few hopes.

All network elements (e.g., GGSN, SGSN, HLR, etc.) and the connecting network cables belong to the local sim card provider. So not incur additional costs to the third party if not in Roaming.

How are charges calculated in roaming, and why are they higher?  

Concerning the previous example, multiple transit networks exist when a T-Mobile USA user roams internationally (for example, in a UK-based network). The local network in the United States, a roaming network in the United Kingdom, and transit networks in between connect the local and roaming infrastructures.

Each network usage has its pricing structure for each byte transferred between a mobile phone and the Internet. As a result, costs multiply by a factor of multiple transits.

How to reduce the cost of data while roaming?

The cost savings come from three actions, reducing data usage, switching to alternative free data accessible sources, and purchasing roaming-friendly plans. This section will go into detail about each option.

Reduce Data Usage – The mobile phones come with an option to switch on/off data while roaming. If you turn off that option and a mobile phone detects that the new network is not the home network, it does not attach for data. The PLMN is the information that sim cards use to drive the network change.

  • Switch Off the data option for roaming.
    • Switch Off data usage on Roaming in Android ( Galaxy S8 reference example)-
      Open settings->Tap On Connections -> Mobile Networks. I slid the button to the left to turn off data while roaming.
    • Switch Off data usage for Roaming in iPhone-
      Open settings-> Select Roaming Off in Cellular Data Options. For Details, Check How to change settings for data.
  • MMS and Data usage – The standard text message uses only signaling, and mostly it’s (incoming) free. But MMS uses the Internet,  so the MMS will also stop with data off.
    Another way to stop MMS (Android) is, Go to Message App->Settings->More Settings->Multi Media Messages. Turn off the auto retrieve.
  • Set Data Usage Warnings if the device supports it.
  • Set data usage Cap if have device has this option.

Alternative Options –  The alternative option is a WiFi network. These days you will find this option at most places, Railway Station, Airport, Shopping Malls, Offices, etc. So  Just connect to WiFi and use the data while roaming.

SIM with Roaming Plans- Check data pack plans with the existing operator before moving abroad. If that does not suit you, there are options for traveling sim cards. Generally, you can find shops at airports for travel SIM.

A travel SIM card provider is a virtual network operator supporting multi IMSIs in the card. When you land in a country, it will activate the IMSI local of that country. So now you are local.