If you’ve travelled overseas with a smart phone, you know that you have to turn off international data roaming, otherwise your telco will own your house. That’s barely an exaggeration given the cost of data roaming – here’s Telecom’s, for example – ranges from $8 per megabyte to $30 per megabyte. Yes, that megabytes. As one wag put it: I didn’t know they still made megabytes. Typically in New Zealand we pay $30-50 for a gigabyte, sometimes less than that, and our smartphones and our lifestyles are geared to use that data. These prices are thousand times higher than that.
From time to time, telcos drop these charges, often by quite a large margin, then pat themselves on the back. Just try working out what the charges are in gigabytes, not the megabytes they always quote, and see how they stack up against what you pay at home.
Why should you have to pay more when you go overseas? When you take your mobile to the UK, say, and use data, the mobile telco you are connected to in the UK ships that data back to New Zealand for your home telco to put it onto the Internet here. That’s bonkers, and its part of the reason why its all so expensive. What *should* happen is that local mobile companies wherever you are should just connect you to the Internet for a decent price, i.e. whatever they charge their own customers plus a percentage to reflect the cost of billing it back. I’m not holding my breath on this.
Anyway, that’s not what this article is about. It’s about how to avoid paying these insane charges.