Maintaining communication while doing business internationally is vital, but the cost of using voice and data services on your phone while outside the U.S. can be astronomical. Tales abound of travelers returning from overseas, or even just from a trip “next door” to Canada or Mexico, to find a bill from their cell-phone carrier exceeding $1,000 for a fairly modest amount of usage, or from background data usage that the phone’s owner didn’t even realize was taking place. With the help of a telecom consultant, a company can find the most economical and efficient way for employees traveling abroad to access voice and data services if necessary, and to avoid unnecessary and unwanted or “accidental” charges. This knowledge should be incorporated into an enterprise-wide policy on international telecommunications usage that is distributed to all employees who travel outside the U.S. Compliance can be monitored through active telecom management practices such as regular invoice reviews and phone bill audits.
Here are some suggested tips on how to reduce the cost of using a cell phone or smartphone while traveling internationally:
- Consider signing up for your carrier’s international calling plan or international data roaming plan. For a monthly fee, these plans give you access to a tier of pricing that is lower than the usual rates for some (but probably not all) countries. While the cost per minute or megabyte is still relatively high with these plans, they can provide significant savings.
- A more sophisticated solution is to change your phone’s SIM card while traveling abroad. A phone’s SIM card contains identifiers unique to your phone that, among other things, give information specifying your “home” network in the U.S. Voice and data transmissions are always routed through your domestic home network, which is why you incur international roaming fees when you take your phone out of the country. Purchasing a SIM card locally essentially makes you part of the local network, and buying one in each country you visit is still much cheaper than paying international voice roaming charges. Prepaid SIM cards can also be obtained in the U.S. before departure.
- Disable data roaming using your phone’s menu before departure re-enable only when necessary. Instead of using your carrier’s data network (and incurring exorbitant charges) you can use Wi-Fi to access the internet. Keep in mind, however, that in some locations free Wi-Fi may not be as readily available as you’re used to back home.
- Keeping a smartphone in “airplane mode” (or “offline mode”) prevents a network connection from being established and data charges from being incurred, while still allowing all non-network-based applications to be used. This can prevent your device from receiving automatic updates or synchronization, but note that calling, texting and e-mailing are not possible while in this mode. Alternatively, automatic synch and update functions can be disabled through the phone’s menu.
With extensive telecom consulting experience dating back to 1985, Telanalysis knows how to identify current telecom overspending and reduce future telecom costs for your business or organization. We also have the expertise to pursue telecom billing disputes and negotiate contracts with telecom carriers nationwide. Call Telanalysis today for a free consultation at 866-300-6999.