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Can I use my mobile network abroad?
03 December, 2019
Whether you're taking a winter getaway or planning your 2020 holidays, avoid ruining your trips abroad by ensuring you won’t return to a nasty phone bill. Prior to travel, ensure you check your data roaming options, and always check the ts and cs of Wi-Fi services.
Prior to travelling, it’s important to check your mobile tariff to ensure that you are activated for roaming abroad.
You can use your UK Tariff in EU Zones, as you would in the UK, at no extra roaming charges.
In EU Zones you will be charged for excess data at the UK rates, and if you exceed your tariff allowance this can quickly add up to a large bill.
However when travelling outside of the UK, please be aware that data charges can be very high, and depending on your zone of travel can be as much as £9.78 per MB.
Some of the networks and partner networks abroad do send text notifications, however these are not guaranteed. The UK is reliant on the foreign network partner to deliver these alerts, so please monitor your own data usage by downloading a data monitoring app. The AF Telecoms can provide you with a copy of our Data Monitoring Guide.
For iPhone users, ensure that you switch Wi-Fi-assist off. If you are in an area of poor Wi-Fi, your iPhone will revert to using mobile data resulting in very high charges.
We also recommend to not opt out of any text notifications about data usage or data caps, as you will be held legally liable for high charges incurred.
The AF Telecoms team can discuss the area of travel and give best advice about using data and options of bolt-ons to reduce costs.
Ferry or cruise travel
If travelling on a ferry or cruise please note that Maritime Data is not free Wi-Fi.
You can be charged between £6-£9.78 per MB for using the ships maritime/satellite data services. If you are waiting to board the ship please be aware that as you are in close proximity to the ship, you may link to their Maritime Wi-Fi network at high charges.
If you forget to switch your data roaming off, your phone may be running updates in the background using data without you being aware.
Data Roaming near International borders
It’s important to remember that your phone will automatically connect to the strongest mobile network.
If you are roaming in the EU zone near international borders of non-EU countries, your phone could automatically connect to a non-EU network. This can incur high data roaming, call and text charges, as these zones are not free roaming zones.
The Ombudsman overruled an appeal from a British national who was sailing in Greece near the Turkish border as her phone had locked onto the Turkish network.
Unfortunately she had also opted out of data roaming caps and as a result incurred an £8000 data bill.
This can happen in any international country that borders a zone that may have more expensive roaming charges.
The network does not lock you on – it’s the roaming function of your phone that will do this, and you need to check which network you have automatically roamed onto.
The Ombudsman deems this as user responsibility, as the device/phone you have purchased has the function for automatic roaming.
Prior to travel, ensure that you have data monitoring on your phone, check with the Telecoms team for best advice and don’t opt out of data roaming caps or alerts.
In-Flight Wi-Fi charges
When travelling on any aircraft, there are a handful of carriers that do offer free Wi-Fi on board.
But most of these free Wi-Fi services also come with restrictions, which may incur further costs.
If you do use an airline’s Wi-Fi service on board, the responsibility lies with you to check the restrictions and the costs.
If you do use Wi-Fi that is chargeable, the airline will bill your mobile network service provider and these charges will be passed onto you.
If you exceed the allocated “free Wi-Fi” allowance and incur charges. these will be passed onto you as well.
We are seeing more and more of these charges appearing on members bills as “in-flight data”, just in the same way as the use of Maritime data on board ships.
Please carefully read the terms and conditions before agreeing to the usage and associated costs, as these bills will not be able to be challenged.
Please be vigilant about where you are travelling and what the costs are of using your smartphone/tablet/iPad abroad. We have seen high bills incurred by members due to opting out of alerts/data caps or assuming that they are in an EU zone.
Members have also accessed large volumes of data via mobile networks whilst assuming that they are on a hotel/foreign Wi-Fi that then drops out intermittently.
You are obligated to know how to use your smartphone/equipment abroad and to access information prior to travel for the costs of using data in worldwide zones.
Please enjoy your trips abroad by obtaining the knowledge and best advice to minimise cost and risk prior to travel.
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