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Roam like at home experience: there is a home and “home”

“A few weeks ago, I was in Dublin with three girlfriends. All four have different Telia subscriptions. All four experienced the same thing: having mobile phones that were virtually useless. 3G coverage or no coverage, and it is impossible to make voice calls. It means no maps on the mobile phone, no Tripadvisor lookup, and trouble keeping in touch with work and family at home. ” roam like

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This is how Inside Telecom journalist Ida Oftebro started a commentary about mobile companies’ roaming practices earlier this summer.

She points out that even though we now have “free roaming” abroad, it does not necessarily mean that you get the same experience at home. Although the mobile operator may have agreements with several operators, they will in many cases prefer one of them, and it is not necessarily the one who gives the best experience – or offers 4G.

“When I was in Dublin, each of us,  got  full speed at 4G by switching to Eircom. However, every time we drove a reboot on the phone or reset to automatic network selection, we arrived at 3, who delivered a service that had mostly little or no coverage and barely 2G or 3G available in the busy center area, says Oftebro to 

It is the case that Norwegian mobile operators pay for your foreign traffic despite the EU rules on “roam like home”. The EU rules contain maximum prices for roaming traffic, which in practice is to be regarded as the price all operators pay when customers use the mobile phone on the roaming partner’s network.

This year it is about $58 per gigabyte, while next year it will be 44 kroner, and in 2022 – 22 kroner.

Expensive for the operators, popular with the users

“I think the practice is contrary to customer expectations. When you have a 4G phone and a data subscription, I think most people do not think that the operator may find them routing into a clean

“Even if you do not pay any extra to spend your billing quota on your subscription abroad, the guest fee you pay abroad will be cut accordingly. Each gigabyte you spend abroad costs your mobile operator six euros (57 kroner). If you spend five gigabytes in a month, your carrier costs $ 285.” 3G network abroad when other networks are available. If you have a practice that deliberately gives customers a poorer network experience than they get home, better information should be given about the ability to make active choices. Many are barely aware of this, says Oftebro.  

Another thing that complicates the theme is also that so-called speech over 4G or VoLTE is not particularly prevalent in roaming context. This means that home networks in the countries you visit may choose to stay on 2G or 3G in order to avoid changing networks every time you try to call.

However, the solution need not be very advanced.

By default, the operator selection is set to automatic on both iPhone and Android phones. Although the operators may want to control you against a network, you can manually enter the phone and choose from the other networks available.

Talk over 4G can make you stuck on 2G roam like

Another reason why you get a worse online experience is that while talking over 4G is widespread in Norway, it’s not that in other EU countries. Your home operator may therefore wish to stay in the 2G and 3G network to ensure that you can receive calls without any problems. Data-heavy tourists also lead to a huge extra burden on mobile networks in popular cities and tourist destinations.

We have been in contact with the European Commission, which, in its time, launched the popular initiative “Roam like Home” has become. They refer to national regulatory authorities responsible for enforcing the regulation. Otherwise, they seem to be most concerned with communicating how popular a “Roam-like home” is. And that’s it.

The conclusion is, at least, that we are mobile customers in the short term, until voice over 4G is more prevalent and Norwegian operators have entered into agreements with all foreign operators, need to be more aware of what is in the top left corner of the screen when we travel overseas, and manually switch networks if we are not satisfied with coverage or service. Only so can we ensure an experience that is similar to the one we have at home.

Telenor: is important to control traffic

Telenor’s communications manager Anders Krokan says they enter into roaming agreements at the group level, which gives them greater volumes to negotiate on and with favorable terms.

“The more volume we can guarantee to a roaming partner, the better conditions we get, so it is important for us to control the traffic to the roaming partner, Krokan writes in an e-mail to

Inside Telecom journalist Ida Oftebro experienced very bad coverage in Dublin and London this summer. The solution was to change the operator. Photo: Inside Telecom

When choosing which roaming partner we will enter into, then it is based on services they have on their network (2G / 3G / 4G) and what coverage they have. We always strive to enter into an agreement with those who have all the services in their network and the best coverage. We also want to make arrangements with more than one partner in each country, to ensure the customers the best experience and to back up if there should be an error in the network we control most of the traffic to. Where we have 4G deals, traffic is controlled to the 4G network, Krokan writes.

He says there are countries where Telenor only has agreements with one 4G operator.

“But where our roaming partners have 4G in their network, we are constantly working to get agreements on 4G roaming. Telenor has approximately 250 4G deals worldwide, in 119 countries. 4G Voice roaming agreements depend on both operators having this in their home network. As of today, there are no European operators who have launched this, Krokan writes.

Telia: Communication counselor Ellen Scheen in Telia is on the same line

“It is Telia Company that concludes the agreements for the entire group and also decides how we will distribute traffic abroad in Norway. Customers can always control which networks among our preferred partners they want to use when traveling, but if they do not manually choose, they will automatically pick up the network we believe provides the best overall customer experience in terms of coverage, speed and others services”, writes Scheen, who states that they have 4G agreements with at least two partners in all European countries with the exception of Ireland and Slovakia.

Ice has a slightly different solution

However, if you have Ice as an operator, you may not be able to get 4G regardless of whether you are trying to switch networks. Ice uses so-called sponsorship agreements in some countries, where they have a roaming agreement in several countries at the same time. Then it is the sponsorship company responsible for traffic management.


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