International roaming has been an area of heated debate for years, taking your phone overseas and using it as you would normally, places you in one of two categories, either you are mega rich and/or don’t care about the charges, or you have no idea what you are getting yourself into, and will be getting a nice case of bill shock on your return back home. All of this is likely to change with new range of international roaming plans about to enter the market.
Everyone has heard of the horror stories, of returning from holidays overseas or an international business trip, and being greeting by $10,000+ bill, for making calls and mobile internet. Unfortunately, it is definitely the travellers fault for not taking precautions and in most cases “I didn’t know” just doesn’t cut it, however, the telcos can also be blamed for not notifying customers of the potential costs and not providing warnings when excessive use it likely.
In early 2013, the industry regulator announced that telcos are required to send an SMS to customers upon arrival in another country, and to also send notifications warning of excess usage charge, meaning that “I didn’t know” should now be a thing of the past.
As of August 2013, Vodafone and Optus both announced new pricing structures for overseas travellers.
Optus have revealed the following pricing system, they have divided the world into a couple of different regions, setting out clear pricing breakdowns for voice calls, SMS and mobile data use in those areas. There is also a $10/day option providing unlimited calls and text, and a 30MB data allowance per day.
The $10 a day packs are in what Optus call’s “Zone 1″ only (Asia, Canada, US, New Zealand, UK, Europe, Pacific Islands – you are covered in most of the world but not Middle East, Africa or Latin America)
For users that go over the $10/day allocation, they revert back to the pay as you go rates, The $10 pack in Zone 1 covers 98 countries, while the new schedule of rates covers 182 countries.
Vodafone have also announced their new “Red” plans with three pricing plans, $65,$85 and $100 per month) which gives travellers the option of the $5 per day roaming while in the US, UK and New Zealand on their normal plan entitlements.
This includes unlimited calls, SMS and your normal monthly mobile data allowance also comes with you. So for a 30 day trip away you will pay $150 for unlimited calls and SMS within the country you are in (UK,US Or NZ) and also back to Australia, along with your normal data allowance (starting at 1.5gb on the $65 plan).
For shorter trips, it is even easier. If you spend 5 days in the USA, for $25 you can call and SMS anyone in the US or Australia without any worries whatsoever. And with mobile data if you have a 1.5gb plan and you use 1gb while overseas, you still have 500mb to use when you get back home. There is also a mobile data bolt-on for $10 giving you a 1gb data pack.
The Vodafone plan has another great advantage, in that if you turn off your phone and don’t use whilst overseas, you don’t pay the $5 charge. If you do want to use your phone, the $5 is automatically added to your bill, without having to call the telco to activate the service.
Optus and Vodafone are leading the market with these international roaming options, it is expected that Telstra will eventually follow suite, but currently are still advising customers to purchase additional international data packs before going overseas.