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This is encouraging news.....

The European Parliament has just voted to abolish cellular data roaming charges, effective 15 June 2017. While this change won't take place for some time, this is good news for travellers. Unfortunately, I suspect this may only apply to E.U. or British residents and not those from this side of the Atlantic, although it's possible that some improvements may filter down to others.

For the first time in many years, I used roaming with my home cellular network this year and that worked very well so the roaming situation is getting better.

Posted by
11294 posts

That is good news. But in addition to only applying to cell phone plans from the EU, it also won't apply to travel outside the EU but still in or near Europe. I warned a friend about this when he went to Turkey. He has a T-Mobile UK plan that has good rates within the UK, cheap rates to call the US, and capped rates within the EU. It hadn't occurred to him to check rates while roaming in Turkey, but on my recommendation, he did. It was £1.50 per minute! I assume similar high prices would apply in other places outside the EU (particularly those popular with UK travelers).

On a parallel track, roaming plans for US carriers are also getting better, largely in response to the T-Mobile Simple Choice deal. From what Ken is saying, it sounds like Canadian providers are also giving better rates. As I always say, it's a fluid and rapidly changing situation, so one has to do research shortly before a trip to find the best current deal for one's needs.

Posted by
32264 posts

Harold,

Whether I got a "good deal" or not from my provider would probably be a matter of opinion. I paid $95 for a 31 day plan which included 200 minutes of voice time, unlimited sent texts and 500 MB of data. That may not be considered a good deal by some, but it's better than anything offered by my provider in the past, and cheaper than it would have cost from a travel SIM provider considering I was travelling in multiple countries. It allowed me to use my phone the way I do at home, and not worry about the cost of each call, text or internet access.

This was supposedly a "promotional plan" so may not be available next year, but I'll check that when the time comes. I'm hoping that they might have a better plan next year. If not, I'll have another look at travel SIM's.

Posted by
5687 posts

Ken, you're right: at first glance, $95 CAD(?) ($72 USD) doesn't sound like a great deal to me for 31 days - but, I've never traveled for 31 days, so I'm not sure what my real use/costs would be, so who knows?

On my recent trip to Croatia/Bosnia/Montenegro, I had T-Mobile US which gave me cheap roaming in Croatia, but Montenegro and Bosnia were not covered, so I had to buy SIM cards in each of those two countries.. They were not expensive: about $6 USD in Montenegro and about $3 USD in Bosnia, with SIM cards that had each about 1GB of data. Although I used them for only about six days total, had I stayed longer they would have covered at least ten days - so figure $30 USD for a month. That would cover data and local calls. On WiFi I could use Google Hangouts to make free calls to the US - not sure if Canadians can use that or not.

But even T-Mobile's Simple Choice Plan ($50 USD per month) seems expensive to me now, given that I don't use my phone all that much at home, so I have dumped it for cheaper service - now paying about $30/month for service I cannot use in Europe, but given that I go overseas only a few weeks a year, it doesn't seem worth spending an extra $20/month just to have roaming in some countries. For $240 per year I save, I'm happy to buy a few local SIM cards as needed when I travel and use WiFi calling options like Google Hangouts the rest of the time.

Posted by
32264 posts

Andrew H.,

Even though it may be cheaper, it's not possible for me to use several different locally purchased SIM cards. It's essential that I be easily reachable by several people at home (should the need arise), and If I'm changing numbers every few days that's going to be difficult. That also forces my contacts to keep track of which number I'm using at any particular time, and forces them to make an international long distance call if they need to reach me. I also have electronic devices at home programmed to call my normal cell number, and using a local SIM won't allow me to interact with those.

Posted by
5687 posts

Ken, it sounds like, with your requirements, the plan worked great for you and was worth the money. Not every traveler needs to be reliably reached by phone at nearly all times by multiple people back home, however. Using Google Hangouts (again, not sure if Canadians can, but Americans can), one can be reachable via their US Google Voice phone number no matter how the phone is connected in Europe, as long as it has a WiFi or mobile data connection. If my local SIM phone number changes every time I move to a new country and buy a new SIM, I can still be reached on the same US Google number that I've used for years. One thing I can't say for sure is how good Google Hangouts call quality would be on various European mobile data connections. I have used Hangouts in the US on mobile data and it works surprisingly well at least for short calls; maybe for long calls it is less reliable, not sure.

Canadians could do the same type of thing by buying a Skype number and then using Skype while traveling to be reached on the same Canadian phone number wherever you are, but of course you have to buy a Skype phone number to be reached by landline I think it is $18 USD for three months for (unlimited) incoming calls only. Maybe it wouldn't be worth it in your case to do that, though.

I'm not trying to argue your approach is wrong and mine is right, only that there are alternatives. Many people would be happy to be reachable in Europe only on occasion or for emergencies, so what I've suggested may work better for them.