What is roaming and how does it work?

People tend to travel to different cities, regions and countries. At the same time, it is always desirable to remain in touch with relatives and friends. Fortunately, today everyone has mobile phones. Sooner or later, you are likely to encounter «roaming», so let’s get acquainted with it a bit more.

What is roaming?

It is a service of communication and data transmission on devices that work outside the service area of the «home» operator. In other words, your usual SIM card remains active, you can call, send and receive messages, use the Internet, but the service provider will be the network of another mobile operator. However, any standard actions like «free minutes for favorite numbers» or «gigabytes of free Internet» cease to be active, because here come into effect separate tariff plans.

There are 3 types of roaming:

  • Intranet — used for communication in different regions of the country, but within the network of one operator;
  • National — available in those cities where there is no coverage for your operator, but mandatory within the same country;
  • International — allows to stay connected in foreign countries.

Thanks to this you will have the opportunity to stay with the same number, wherever you are, which is very convenient, albeit expensive.

Principle of operation

The system works only for operators of those networks that enter into special agreements with other operators. However, at the moment the world has become so globalized that there are no problems with it. Large companies have long ago agreed with colleagues.

Roaming can work in different ways, depending on the type of network, but, in general, the process can be divided into the following steps:

  1. An attempt is made to connect (authorize) to your home network;
  2. If this does not work, the device first checks the networks stored in the SIM card memory, and then all other networks. The first to check those where the signal is better;
  3. When the network is found, the connectivity test is performed;
  4. The guest network connects to the subscriber’s home network and receives certain technical information on IMSI;
  5. If the required conditions are met, the guest network begins to service the subscriber, and its permanent network itself is configured for temporary redirection.

We advise you to configure your device to automatically select a network. Firstly, this will greatly simplify the case, since you will not need to double-check every option (and there may be more than a dozen of them). Secondly, when using the manual mode there is a high chance at all to remain unconnected.

Why is roaming expensive?

Expensive roaming is a «feature» of Russia. In the countries of the European Union, for example, its price is constantly decreasing. The European Parliament even approved a directive that establishes the maximum allowable cost of a minute of conversation. In addition, there is a constant debate about the complete cancellation of additional ratification of communication outside the country. In Russia, prices are only increasing. And all right, if for roaming it was required to pay, only being abroad, but «feudal fragmentation» of mobile operators makes pay 2–3 times more even in neighboring areas.

The high cost of the service is justified by the cost component. The operator needs to pay for the transfer of telephone traffic from the home network to the guest network, as well as to pay the tariffs of the receiving party that serves the subscriber. Therefore, a person needs to pay not only for outgoing calls, but also for incoming.

The price of outgoing calls is formed by the operator, which provides its network for roaming service. It is quite logical that this price roughly coincides with the price of international communication in its standard tariff plans. It just can not be too small. The fee for incoming calls is the responsibility of the «home» operator, so it could theoretically be small, but operators rarely give people such happiness. Using the Internet in roaming is not recommended in principle, it’s better to search for Wi-Fi.

Alternatives for roaming

If desirable, it is always possible to find alternative communication options, instead of using expensive roaming.

Option 1 — calls through the Internet. IP-telephony has become quite common and accessible. You can connect to the free Internet via Wi-Fi and talk with a person «on the other side of the Earth» using Skype or its analogues. However, the quality of the conversation depends heavily on the speed and reliability of the Internet connection.

Option 2 — phone applications to bypass roaming. Unlike Skype, these services are not free. You only need to download the application on your mobile device before the trip and register. Tariffs for talking with them are usually quite low.

Option 3 — tourist SIM card. Special «tourist» SIM cards allow cheap communication in roaming, however their cost can not be called budgetary. However, if you actively and regularly travel, this is also a pretty good option, although not without some drawbacks.

Our service also allows not to use roaming when calling from abroad, and does not require a permanent connection to the Internet. It can be used from any phone, and at the same time continue to receive calls to your main number without paying the operator for incoming calls.