Keeping your Data Roaming Bills Down

Have you ever been hit with a huge bill for data roaming on your mobile phone after a trip abroad? Maybe you just checked your email or the weather forecast while away and as a result received a huge bill.

It’s important to be aware of data roaming charges that apply when you travel outside of Qatar to avoid returning home to a bill for hundreds or even thousands of Qatari Riyals in “accidental” data roaming. Voice and data roaming are charged at different rates, with data roaming often significantly more expensive. Here’s some tips from CRA on how to avoid this!

What you need to know…

  • The data roaming rates your service provider charges in the country you are visiting.
  • How to switch off the Internet capability and data roaming on your handset.
  • How to use an iPad or smart device with a data roaming SIM Card.
  • How to switch to free Wi-Fi options where available.
  • What information your service provider (Vodafone Qatar and Ooredoo) has available about data roaming.

Why are data roaming charges so expensive?

Modern devices and mobile handsets offer a wide choice of services, requiring mobile Internet connection. WAP, GPRS, 3G etc. can be included in a plan you purchase from your telecommunications service provider, but the cost of this plan does not apply when you are abroad, or ‘ROAMING’. You should understand that while roaming you are serviced by local mobile operators, so the charges are different.

A megabyte of mobile Internet in roaming can be extremely expensive and service providers may even charge a minimum one megabyte every time you connect to the Internet from your handset.

Switching Data Roaming on or off – it’s YOUR choice

CRA generally advises consumers to switch off their data when roaming. If you choose to switch on the data roaming function you need to be aware of the following:

  • Roaming Internet prices are very high.
  • To keep track of your Internet consumption.
  • The charges applicable for data roaming in the country you are visiting.
  • If you choose to switch off the data roaming function you can still use Wi-Fi to tap into free wireless Internet hotspots.

What to do before you travel

  • Contact your mobile operator’s customer care department before leaving to check data roaming charges in the country you are visiting.
  • Check the service provider’s website to confirm data roaming charges and tariffs.
  • Consider the option of purchasing a local pre-paid SIM card for use during your trip.

How to avoid paying HUGE Data Roaming charges

  • Purchasing an International Data Package can significantly reduce costs.
  • Turn off the automatic data checking and application updates. This will prevent your phone from downloading new data and eating up data usage in the background.
  • Make sure your phone is not switched to GPRS or 3G services when you are using free Wi-Fi for data roaming.
  • Go to the mobile phone settings and reset the network selection to a manual mode setting to avoid automatic switching.
  • If you leave the data roaming function on, set your phone to receive emails manually, NOT automatically. If your handset checks your emails every few minutes, you are likely to end up with a very worrying bill.
  • Use the locally provided free Wi-Fi Internet hotspots instead of 3G/GPRS/EDGE, available in many hotels and cafes.
  • Don’t download email attachments or large files such as photographs and letters which can be expensive.

How to turn off the Internet while roaming

Android Device
Go to ‘settings’ and select Wireless and Networks Tab, then select mobile Networks Settings, Network Settings and select data roaming OFF.

Select the SETTINGS icon, then go to the General tab, go to Network and turn data roaming OFF.

Go to the main menu, manage settings function, then select mobile network option – elect to turn data services OFF.

More details? Watch this awareness video!