What is Data Roaming?

28 July 2017

What is data roaming

Thanks, Alex :) 

So, what is data roaming exactly? Just jump on a plane and head to another country where your carrier doesn't operate -- you'll have to use another carrier's network since you're roaming as a guest on this new network. You won't be able to connect to your own. This is international roaming.

If you're staying domestic and traveling around the country, your data roaming should be a seamless experience. You should be able to stream and use data without noticing any change at all. If data services don’t work, you’ve just roamed off of your carrier network and you don't have access to network frequencies right now. 

Be careful: If you go over your data allotment while roaming, you're going to "run out" of data and be stuck without it until the next billing cycle. Double check with your carrier.

Data Roaming

To roam is to wander. Data roaming, in the telecommunications world, is to wander off of your current carrier’s network. 

In order to avoid losing vital data coverage while you’ve roamed off their network, you get to jump on another carrier's network. That’s because networks partner up with other networks. 

The conversation probably goes like this: 

Big Network: Hey, we have great coverage all over the place. But, listen, we don’t have towers in certain areas. Turns out, these are your areas. Is there any way we can rent out  partner up with you and your network coverage there?

Other Network: Okay. Have your customers jump onto our network when they’re in our neighborhood. Here’s what’ll cost… 

Domestic mobile data roaming

Domestic roaming is free. The chances of your network not having a backup partner network to jump on when you're out of their coverage area are slim. Amongst other things, you are paying for the promise of exceptional coverage from your network.

Your carrier plan will include this in your monthly charges. The only thing you need to worry about is going over your data limit. In some cases, you might reach your data allotment quicker while roaming on another network. If this is the case, you won't have access to your data until the following month. Don't worry, though. You can just use WiFi until then!

International roaming

International roaming plans and options are plentiful but not free. When you book your trip, be sure to get the details about international data plans and roaming from your current network carrier. The options are endless so you should read this before you choose your international roaming plan.

International roaming is different from domestic and will require data passports, fees, possible SIM cards, or an entirely new temporary feature added to your current plan. This is something that is easily arranged with your current carrier network. 

How to avoid roaming charges

To avoid roaming charges, turn off your data and only use WiFi. This is the easy answer and is the only tried and true method of saving money and avoiding charges when you travel - be it domestic or international.

If you simply must turn your data on in order to stream music or upload to social media,  be aware of what your data roaming fees might look like.

To learn more about international roaming, read this.

Learn more about data roaming for these major carriers:

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