Why on earth is data so expensive when travelling abroad?

in #technology3 years ago (edited)

I travel quite often and a few times I received a bill at the end of the month which none of us want. I am sure many of us had the same issue.


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A lot of people are of the opinion that you should buy a local sim card when you arrive in the country. Sure I agree that is the easiest, except that nobody know's the number. If you travel for business, you want everybody to be able to contact you. My problem is with the data charges. Here is a few messages that I received when travelling into Botswana yesterday.

I truly believe that the problem with the extortion in the data charges is not the technology, but the greed from the Service Providers, and the ease for them to make money out of them.

Message 1

Vodacom welcomes you to BOTSWANA. For assistance, dial +2782111 or use the Contact Us page on the Vodacom App, both for free. Dial +2782141 followed by the last 9 digits of your number for voicemail retrieval then press 1 during announcement. Std rates apply. For more info visit www.vodacom.co.za/roamtc

Please note the following statement from the Message: For assistance, dial +2782111 or use the Contact Us page on the Vodacom App, both for free.

My problem with the above message:

Please note the following statement from the Message 1: For assistance, dial +2782111 or use the Contact Us page on the Vodacom App, both for free.

I have been in technology for many years. I have learnt that if you set something up, it will work for most scenario's. My opinion on this is that if you can set the About Us page on a website for free, it should be possible to set the rest up for free as well. I am however not expecting to get this for free. Bear in mind that you already pay the service provider you standard data rates and you are paying the roaming charges in addition to the standard free.

All I am asking is that it is a fair rate, as the charges are negotiated between the service providers. You can see this by the difference in charges in different countries. See the article below.

While some countries have more favourable data roaming rates, others, like Thailand will cost you anywhere between R120.27/MB on Telkom to R300.00/MB on MTN. So a couple of Instagram sessions could easily cost a few thousand rand!

You can view the full article here


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Message 2

You're roaming on the Vodafone World plan. On Network Mascom Wireless you pay R6/min for local calls, calls to SA or Int'l R6/min, receiving calls R6/min, R2.75/SMS and R17.50/MB for data. For T&Cs and rates visit www.vodacom.co.za/roam

Message 3

You're in a Vodacom Travel Saver country which means that you can save while roaming. For R60/day, R7.50/min for calls, R2/SMS & R7.50/MB for data. SMS 'SAVE' to +2782123 to activate. T&Cs apply. Visit www.vodacom.co.za/saver

My problem with the above messages:

So clearly my Service provider Vodafone negotiated a deal with Mascom, which is a service provider in Botswana. I know this as the message states you are roaming on a Vodafone World plan. I am also in a Vodacom Travel Saver company, so another Special is highlighted.

It is just weird that the same company, Vodacom and Vodafone,(yes Vodacom was bought by Vodafone a few years ago) have different specials deals. And the deals does not make sense. Why will I pay R60/day, to pay more for my calls to SA. The difference between R6/min on the Vodafone World plan and the R7.50/min for calls on the Vodacom Travel Saver.


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The cellular industry is driving me nuts, as I know that technically, it does not cost them much more when I travel in a different country. All that actually happens is that the call is routed through a different Switch or router. I am fairly sure that the billing solution that they use to bill us , would've been more expensive than just routing at no cost, through a router that they already owned.

To top this all, I do not believe the service that we receive from these companies in general are up to scratch in any case. I experience dropped calls and slow networks on a daily basis.

Call out to the Cellular companies out there. Please use the outrages call and data charges from abroad, which you receive undeservedly, to fix the shitty networks, which you charge us for at ridiculous rates in any case.

Happy Steeming!


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is not the technology, but the greed from the Service Providers

For sure it is greed from providers, leaving you no other choice than to use it :)

European union is moving into the right direction with Roam like at home

The EU "roam like at home" rules mean that when you use your mobile phone while travelling outside your home country in any EU country you don't have to pay any additional roaming charges. You benefit from these rules when calling (to mobile and fixed phones), sending text messages (SMS) and using data services while abroad.

My guess is that as a traveller we don't provide the local telecom companies recurring revenue like the local residents so they will charge us more for using their networks. Your service provide will charge you for roaming and in turn your service provider will be charged a fee for pigging backing on the host countries' network. There may also be taxes incurred through cross borders communication to the governments. Therefore layers on layers of fees in which we ultimately pay for. Win-win for those providing the service whereas we lose-lose!

Probably every don't like it great post man keep sharing waiting for your another post :)

Why its expensive? -> easy money for provider

Because monopoly. How about you buy a cheap burner and bring it with you when you travel, insert your home SIM there, buy a local SIM and use that one for data?

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happy birthday bro !!!

Great post. I am happy to see that at least EU is working in the right direction.

And it took only ~15 years to finally achive their goal :)

Maybe that's why the EU receives so many criticism nowadays! If they took 15 years to solve that, imagine the bigger issues!! I'm also very happy with EU's decision about Roaming service, I've already payed a lot for callings when traveling inside the EU.

That is scary, if it took the EU 15 years, it will take Africa 150 years :)

Hey @jacor,thank for bringing out this issue for all of us to talk about. I truly second your concerns. It's doesn't take a genius to understand what these so called "telcos" are doing. There only motorbike is to make mulla, even at the cost of their customer's suffering.
Here in India, we used have a very similar condition. The whole world, but India, had already moved onto 4G data speeds and technology but our Telecom Service Provider didn't want us to think that 4G was anything interesting. The data prices were as expensive as, or probably more, 4G data prices of other countries.
Indian telecom industry desperately needed a disruption to break the monopoly of these big time players; and that's exactly what transpired with the new entrant by the name of 'JIO'. I am not here to publicize or anything but it really did change the face of the industry. Today, 4G data is extremely cheap and accessible to all sections of the society...
Saw your post and thought of putting forward my views. Thanks! Peace ✌️

Hi Liked you post very informative with lots of body thanks man

I understand this pain to some extent, as I traveled abroad in Spain and Italy for a quarter and had to work with different carriers while I traveled around Europe. I solved it to some extent by getting a prepaid SIM card in Spain and Italy. Even though the carriers were supported in the various EU countries I visited, I did pay more for data usage in each one outside of the original country. I get that the phone companies want you to get a plan for the country you will reside in, but the roaming fees are definitely far more costly than they would need to be, especially when I was visiting Portugal and France, which are next to Spain and wouldn't need too much more effort in rerouting.

Block chain Project for this anyone we got some smart people im sure the block-chain community can solve this too. but its sadly true. Intriguing post keep it up

Never made sense to me and never will, great article!

Thanks for the post man. I remember the days when data was R10/meg, then R2/meg and now "kinda"cheap ;)
But yes, totally agree, data whilst roaming is an absolute nightmare!!!
As mentioned in your post, I get a local SIM and then just use my same WhatsApp number so people can still contact me there :)

Have you looked into getting a google sip number? you might find the service a bit cheaper...

I think it is all about greedy and big companies owning everything... like everything bad that is happening in the planet. War, disequality, poverty, you named.

It looks as if you are "steeming" about your service provider rates and service!! LOL

@rynow, there is a proposal by @BlockRush on how Steem Blockchain could be used to make internet free of charge! > https://steemit.com/steemit/@blockrush/how-steemit-inspired-free-internet-can-resolve-net-neutrality-blockrush

Thanks for the info

Because capitalism?

Ya international roaming data charges suck. All they see is big fat preys in tourists!

In many countries you can buy Travel SIM Cards these days - look for a local provider in the country that you live in and check that they cover the country that you are travelling to.

I'm in Australia and this is just one of many providers - https://aussiesim.com.au

The chief marketing tactic of the telecommunications industry is confusion - Theresa Gattung, former CEO of Telecom NZ.

Local sim cards are another option but you're right - only people that know you're new number can you reach you.

Hope this helps!

Oohh I'm so happy the EU changed their policies on this, Now rocking 20GB 4G and unlimited calls and text, no added cost in the whole European Union, Love it!

Yes, I totally agree. Can you check your title for a possible error? It might be "expensive". :)

Lol, thanks for the heads up :) Changed

@donkeypong, you should this AWESOME proposal by @BlockRush about how Blockchain technology could be used to make the internet free > https://steemit.com/steemit/@blockrush/how-steemit-inspired-free-internet-can-resolve-net-neutrality-blockrush

It's crazy. I was talking about this yesterday in conversation actually. I live in South Africa. Most countries, it costs around R4-R10 per GB.. Then Vodacom here charges R150. It's ridiculous..

Luckily traveling is easier if you just buy a internationally unlocked phone. Then all you do is get a new sim card in each country and load data :)

In Europe a new law came into effect that cellular data shouldnt be restricted by borders anymore. Its a great start to mobile freedom worldwide.

Hi @jacor i also travel a lot and in all country i buy a new sim card with prepaid cards. And always keep my other phone with my usual number "on" so when ever someone is calling me i don't answer and i mostly call them back with skype but when i feel it is urgent i use the country sim to call abroad. I never answer to peoples who are calling me because if i do so i will be the one who pay the international connection and even my provider send me message to use this or that local provider it is still a lot more expensive then get a new sim. Thanks and follow you

Hi Ricko66 , at the end of the day nothing beats a local sim :) I just think it is unfair for the ridiculous charges.

@BlockRush has an AWESOME post about how Blockchain technology could be used to make the internet FREE for everyone! you must check it >
https://steemit.com/steemit/@blockrush/how-steemit-inspired-free-internet-can-resolve-net-neutrality-blockrush

That's ridiculous xD And for Disney of all companies.. It literally costs nothing for a company to get high speed internet.. It could have been due to the fact that it was a cruise.. Maybe there was bad signal so higher costs.