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If you can't get your cellphone to work overseas....

Last night, I was chatting with one of the receptionists at my hotel in London when another guest (American) comes down and says he's having trouble making a cellphone call.

Receptionist: Who is your provider?

Guest:. Verizon

She looks lost.

Me: Did you sign up for their international plan?

Guest: Yes

Me: Is your data roaming turned on?

He checked, it wasn't, he turned it on and could make calls.

If you are having trouble making calls outside the U.S. make sure your data roaming is turned on.

Posted by
7167 posts

And if you're in your hotel with free wifi then turn your data off (wifi on) and use facetime to make a free video or audio call. Of course there are other audio/video apps out there to use wifi to make your connection if you don't have facetime.

Posted by
5231 posts

Or before you leave the states have your family and what others individuals you ‘ll need to be in contact with while traveling upload WhatsApp to their phones. You do the same.

It’s how keep in contact when I’m traveling and when I’m back home in the late great state of CA.

WiFi. So easy. Free. Have used to chat with friends in China, UK, Ireland, Italy.

Posted by
8889 posts

I am not sure why you would need your data roaming on to make a phone call. Phone and data are two different things. I have my phone roaming turned on, and data roaming off (use WiFi whenever available) to avoid accidental high data charges, for example when your phone checks for e-mails. I turn data roaming on only when I need it.
Normal phone roaming allows you to send and receive calls, and texts.

Perhaps the person had both turned off, then turned both on.

Posted by
4686 posts

Or before you leave the states have your family and what others individuals you ‘ll need to be in contact with while traveling upload WhatsApp to their phones. You do the same.

Not all of my family have smart phones. Fortunately, I can call them on their landlines for free with Google Hangouts. And Hangouts receives incoming calls on my Google Voice number, which is already my regular US phone number. So I don't have to tell anyone to install any app. They can call me from a landline wherever I am in the world.

Posted by
8906 posts

And if you're in your hotel with free wifi then turn your data off
(wifi on) and use facetime to make a free video or audio call.

Any high-end smart phone (be it Android or IOS) that has been built in the last four years has "WiFi-calling" built into it. With this feature turned on your phone can use a WiFi signal to make/receive regular voice & text calls using your phone number (free of charge). Once you leave Wifi range your phone switches back to the towers and vice versa.

Posted by
4686 posts

Your mobile provider must also support the WiFi Calling feature. And they all seem to support it in a different way, if they support it at all.

If you can't use WiFi Calling, just use Google Hangouts to make calls. It will work on either WiFi or mobile data, and as I noted above, the other person doesn't need to have Hangouts to receive calls from you. Just dial their phone number or search your contacts for it. Add a +1 if calling a US number from overseas. Calls to US numbers are free, calls to non-US numbers cost a few cents per minute.

Posted by
8906 posts

All of the main wireless providers in the US (Verizon, Tmobile, Sprint, At&T) offer WiFi calling, all implement it the same way.

Posted by
11677 posts

Can someone address Chris F's comment that phone use and data use are separate things? That was my impression as well. I just have a flip phone (not a smart phone) that I use in Europe without worry about data charges. But I am pretty sure my husband can have data "off" on his iPhone and still send or receive calls and texts.

Posted by
4686 posts

All of the main wireless providers in the US (Verizon, Tmobile, Sprint, At&T) offer WiFi calling, all implement it the same way.

There are many more than four mobile providers in the US. True, most of them are Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MNVOs), but it's still up to them how to implement WiFi calling, if at all. For example, Tello (a Sprint MNVO) offers WiFi calling only via their app, and it is not free.

Addendum: if you use an unlocked phone not purchased from the carrier directly, you also may not be able to use WiFi Calling, even with the "big four." I'm using Sprint with an unlocked Moto E4, and it does not support WiFi calling at all. Apparently, the "Sprint version" of the phone does.

So...let's not make blanket statements that every modern US phone on every US carrier will support WiFi Calling. Fortunately, there's Google Hangouts, which as far as I know will work on any Android or iPhone, no matter what carrier you use.

Posted by
4686 posts

Can someone address Chris F's comment that phone use and data use are separate things? That was my impression as well. I just have a flip phone (not a smart phone) that I use in Europe without worry about data charges. But I am pretty sure my husband can have data "off" on his iPhone and still send or receive calls and texts.

For modern phones, mobile data usually must be ON to send/receive texts. This allows for MMS (multimedia texts).

For calls, you can probably have data off.

Posted by
8906 posts

let's not make blanket statements that every modern US phone on every
US carrier will support WiFi Calling.

Combined Verizon, Tmobile, Sprint, and AT&T have 90% market share. If one has an expensive smartphone it's a safe bet they can use WiFi calling.

Posted by
991 posts

Can someone address Chris F's comment that phone use and data use are separate things? That was my impression as well.

I have a Verizon phone which I use overseas. They used to send out more directions on how to use your phone overseas, but the last set they sent a couple of years ago said that you need data roaming on to use your phone overseas. It didn't specify whether that was for texting or actual calling, but it was like the number one or two step in their list of instructions.

Posted by
1030 posts

I can confirm that AT&T restricts WiFi calling to those with postpaid plans. I’m on prepaid and it’s a restricted feature. Every few months I try to enable it but I haven’t been successful yet. The somewhat odd thing is cricket an MVNO which is owned by AT&T supposedly allows WiFi calling.

FaceTime calls and iMessage texts will work over WiFi to other iOS devices.

Posted by
30932 posts

Hopefully the Verizon customer had also signed up for a roaming data plan. If not, they may get a rude awakening when they receive their bill.

I've found over the last few years that I've been travelling with a smartphone and roaming with my home network, that the voice function works whether data is available or not however texts can only be sent and received when data roaming is switched on.

Regarding the question that Chris asked, the issue with the Verizon phone could be that voice functions are handled only via VOIP?

Posted by
3133 posts

Hopefully the Verizon customer had also signed up for a roaming data
plan. If not, they may get a rude awakening when they receive their
bill.

My thought too!