How to avoid data roaming 'bill shock'

By David Flynn, November 8 2010
How to avoid data roaming 'bill shock'

Most business travellers love that their smartphone keeps email, Web sites and other online services just a few taps away.

But as many have accidentally discovered when overseas, the cost of using 3G data as a ‘roaming’ service is a killer. You can easily return home to a bill for hundreds or even thousands of dollars in accidental data roaming fees.

You can still use Wi-Fi to tap into free hotspots at hotels and cafes, but you’d be wise to turn off your smartphone’s data roaming feature.

On the iPhone: open the Settings app and tap General, then Network, and set the Data Roaming switch to ‘Off’.

For BlackBerry devices: choose Options, Mobile Network, Data Services and select the ‘Off When Roaming’ setting.

For Android smartphones: click Settings, Wireless controls, Mobile network settings and uncheck the ‘Data roaming’ box.

On the other hand, if you want to make full use of your smartphone during your travels, ask your mobile carrier about their international data roaming plans.

Optus has a ‘Bridge Alliance’ partnership with several Asian carriers, with 15MB of data per month available for $40.

Telstra’s International Roaming Data Packs for Next G customers begin at $29 for 10MB, while Vodafone’s Roaming Data Bundles provide 25MB of data for $49.

10-15MB is sufficient for email, some light web browsing plus updates on Facebook and Twitter; a bit more data gives you room to do a little more online with less worry, but still, steer clear of YouTube and other streaming video services!

And while those per-MB rates may sound expensive compared to your monthly data plan in Australia, they represent a substantial discount over the ‘rack rates’ for casual data access while overseas.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


13 Nov 2010

Total posts 1

There's only one postpaid alternative in Australia for business roaming -

Saves around 50% compared to Telstra/Optus/Vodafone...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Nov 2010

Total posts 60

vroam is ridiculosly expensive for data roaming in most locations, no savings to be had there for smart phone use at least, better to buy a roaming bundle from the carrier instead, none really compare to a local SIM though if that's an option

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Dec 2010

Total posts 16

vRoam data savings depend on the country. Some countries up to 70% savings.

Many business travellers need to be contactable on their normal Australian number, and international call-forwarding is not usually available from Australian mobile numbers. Many also don't want/need the hassle of managing credit, topups etc. Increasingly, many countries are blocking SIM registration to foreigners.

If this suits your needs, then vRoam may be the only way you can save on roaming.

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