Roaming or not – that is the question

A few weeks ago, a tweet from Luis Garicano, responsible for the economic program of Citizens, showed an image of his latest telephone bill, from Movistar, which showed the amount of six phone calls, with a total duration of 107 minutes with 56 seconds, and whose amount amounted to 434.51 euros.

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The calls, as indicated in his tweet, had been made with his Spanish line (Movistar Spain) from the Netherlands and to the United States. A quick account shows us that, if there is no cost per call establishment or if it is minimal, we are talking about around four euros per minute.

Discussion that raised the tweet, there seem to be different interpretations of what is (or what should be) roaming.

So, when we talk about roaming or roaming in mobile telephony, we are referring to the possibility that our phone, which has a card of a certain operator, can connect to other networks and continue to function normally, offering them ( or at least a part) of the services that the user has when he is connected to his operator’s network. Roaming depends on two fundamental factors: compatibility of the device with the network infrastructure of the operator to which we want to connect, and existence of an agreement (whether bilateral, within a consortium, etc.) between our operator and the one we are going to use. In summary, roaming is that our device can connect to the networks of other operators when ours does not offer coverage in the place where we are at a specific time.

As a general rule, when we talk about roaming, we are really referring to our operator’s rates when we are connected to other networks, which happens whenever we travel abroad (EU/EEA countries are not abroad any more – for EU citizens).

It is important, very important that, therefore, we start by making a clear distinction between roaming and international calls.

Unless the operator explicitly indicates otherwise. If I have a Italian line, I am in Berlin and make a phone call to Paris, I will have to assume the cost of an international call, just as if I made it from Spain. And, beware, with the addition that if we have contracted a special price plan for calls abroad (from Italy), it may not apply when we are roaming and, therefore, we would have to pay according to the general rate of the operator.

Such is the case, for example, of what seems to have happened to Garicano: in general there are many doubts about what is and what is not included in their rates when roaming, many think that it translates into local calls within the European space (erroneous) and that 100% of what we have contracted with our operator, in terms of costs, is maintained when we are roaming in the European Union (also wrong).

So, to make a composition of place that avoids us problems, first we must think that, in roaming, we will pay the same as “at home” (an international call is always, here and everywhere), but we must also have consider the specific restrictions that each operator applies, when we are roaming, to the products that we have hired. And, a fundamental element, we must always avoid the confusion between roaming and international calling, since most of the problems and the unexpected shocking bills come from this point. Source

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