Just like extra minutes outside of your plan, wireless roaming used to be an expensive land mine for consumers and a heavenly gold mine for telecom operators.
In today’s cutthroat competitive environment where you have more options than ever before, your cell phone dollar is more valuable to carriers than ever before.
This means that they have made concessions they were not prepared to make in the past in order to attract and keep your business.
Over the years, the situation with wireless roaming has changed dramatically, which can be seen as a paradigm shift.
Despite significant changes, consumer benefits have not been widely advertised by operators mobile communications and were not well documented in the press.
What used to be a dangerously expensive alert on your mobile phone is now a free service in many cases. International roaming, however, usually costs by the minute and can be quite expensive.
So, how do you know if your carrier offers free roaming and if your plan has this feature? In this article, you will learn about the latest wireless roaming (or offline coverage) options for your specific carrier.
What is roaming?
Before diving into your carrier’s roaming policy, let’s first find out what wireless roaming is and what it means to you.
Although the term «roaming» comes from technology GSM (which is used by T-Mobile and AT&T), it can be applied to technology CDMA (which is used by Sprint, Verizon Wireless and Virgin Mobile). Simply put, roaming is when you use a cell tower that is not owned by your cell carrier.
You can think of roaming like this: let’s say your carrier is Sprint and you’re in an area with a weak signal. Let’s say you switch to roaming (automatically or manually) to improve your signal because Verizon Wireless, for example, has stronger coverage there.
When you are roaming, you temporarily use Verizon Wireless while Sprint remains the primary carrier. Sprint and Verizon Wireless will handle the complexities of billing.
Because no operator has perfect coverage everywhere, operators enter into roaming agreements with others to help fill their coverage gaps. Your mobile phone will usually tell you effectively when you are roaming. Many cell phones there are even «roaming guards».
Such a guard prevents inadvertent switching to roaming if you do not want to incur such costs. Many phones allow you to use only your carrier’s network, only roaming, or you can automatically switch between the two based on which signal is strongest.
Is your roaming free?
Roaming cost from 30 to 40 cents per minute. Roaming includes making and receiving calls, text messaging and use of data services outside your carrier’s network.