Roaming is the ability to access the internet even though your operator does not have a cellular tower. The term data roaming means “to walk” in English, which is exactly what your telephone connection does. It migrates from one mobile network to another. When you are at home, the connection to the nearest cellular tower provided by your operator jumps.
This is the reason why you may experience notches in the coverage when traveling at high speeds, for example when traveling by train.
People usually talk about data roaming when it comes to using their phones abroad. What it’s really about is that your operator has an agreement with the foreign cellular towers, which means that you still have coverage even though you are outside your own country’s borders. Your phone thus borrows a mobile network via foreign cellular when you are abroad. This is why you can see another operator’s name on your phone than the one you usually have when you are at home.
The operator that you borrow from when you are abroad is an operator with whom your operator at home has an agreement. This way, you can call and surf even when your operator’s network is not available – for example when you are abroad.
How is data roaming used?
Roaming is made possible through internet providers who have collaboration agreements to grant each other’s customers local access to the internet. A special software among collaborating ISPs can keep track of and calculate predetermined payments for different uses. This is how it works:
The user must already subscribe through a provider that offers roaming as an option.
Provided that they do this, the user can choose a cooperating provider in a city to which the user travels.
During the trip, the user can call their local provider’s designated phone number via the computer modem.
Thus, the “foreign” provider will contact your internet provider at home and decide that the user is a valid user. The user then gets access to the Internet.
Roaming will be charged through local phone rates. In addition, depending on the arrangement of some services, the home provider may charge an extra hourly rate for the hourly rate or a monthly fee if the service is used during that month.
These rules primarily apply if you travel outside the EU / EEA. Since 2017, there are new rules that make it possible to roam within the EU / EEA at no extra cost. This means that you can use the phone abroad without having to pay the extra fees we mentioned above. However, roaming on your phone must be turned on. Most operators allow you to call and text just like at home but have a limit for how much of your surf you can use. Check what the amount of surfing within the EU / EEA looks like at your particular operator so that you can manage the surfing or buy extra if needed.
If you use the phone to make calls, text messages, text messages or surf when you are outside the EU, there will be additional fees for your subscription. However, some operators offer similar rules as in the EU / EEA for other countries as well.
Can you make calls without activating roaming?
Yes, it is possible to make calls without activating roaming. You still need to “borrow” the foreign operator’s cellular tower, and will therefore be charged extra for that call. If you turn off roaming on the phone, you will still receive text messages and calls, but you can not send text messages or use the mobile data. Before you decide to have roaming turned off during the entire trip, be aware that many features that you use on a daily basis will not work, such as apps and services. Of course, you can connect to a Wi-Fi to use the internet and apps.
How do you know when using roaming?
It is easy to find out if you use roaming on your mobile. Look for where you usually see your carrier’s name on the phone screen. If there is another company name there, that means you can use their network, but they will charge your operator for this business. It is this charge that is made if you are outside the EU. Another way to see if you are using roaming is by keeping an eye on text messages from your carrier.
When you arrive at a place outside your operator’s network, you will often receive a text message informing you that you are using roaming. In this message, you usually also find out what the prices look like where you are, for example, fee per call minute, message and for surfing. When you arrive at your destination, you may also find that you have no connection at all, and then it may be because the phone has the roaming setting turned off.
If you want to turn on roaming, you can easily do it in your phone. If you have an Android, go to Settings> Mobile networks> Enable Data Roaming. However, it may differ between different Android manufacturers, but the approach is usually simple and easy to find. If you have an iPhone, go to Settings> Mobile networks> Mobile data options> Data roaming. Under Settings> Mobile networks, you can also see how much roaming you have used during the current period. It can be good to keep track of if you travel outside the EU.
Maximum ceiling for roaming within the EU
Although roaming is free within the EU, there are some restrictions depending on which operator you use. For surfing within the EU, there is often a maximum ceiling for how much of the surfing is included in the subscription that you may use. How high this maximum ceiling is depends on which operator you use. A subscription with unlimited surfing at home in Sweden thus rarely provides unlimited surfing if you are traveling within the EU.
Some telecom operators also offer a uniform rate for roaming within the EU, which means that mobile surfing is not that expensive abroad.
We recommend that you find out which rules apply to your particular operator. All mobile operators have different applications of roaming, and although it may feel awkward to understand, you can avoid coming home to a terribly expensive mobile bill.
What does data roaming mean?
Roaming is about your operator through agreements with other operators making it possible to use your mobile abroad. You have probably noticed that your mobile connects to one of the local operators when you are on holiday abroad. This at no extra cost to you – at least as long as you stay in the EU.
Do I have to turn off roaming when I’m abroad?
Free roaming applies within the EU. This means that you can surf on the same terms as at home even when you are abroad. Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland are also covered by the agreement, even though they are not members of the EU. If you go to the USA, for example, it is another five. Then you need to turn off roaming so as not to incur extra charges. Some operators have good subscriptions if you want to be able to surf outside Europe’s borders as well.