“Roaming charges are still the biggest hassle for overseas travellers. Why should consumers be held hostage and pay the increasingly high rates to roam, as the world globalises and budget travel increase, especially as these fees are mainly for commercial purposes.
“The obvious solution for consumers to date is to just turn everything off. However, this removes the benefits of having a mobile abroad. The next best thing is just to stick to Wi-Fi, only access your mobile services when you are in the vicinity of free Wi-Fi. However, it has been widely reported that public Wi-Fi suffers from security concerns and again limits how you can use your phone.
“A local SIM is probably one of the most popular and cheapest options for travellers. The challenge is, you lose your number and contacts associated with your home SIM. This is not ideal for business travellers, who need to keep their number for inbound calls.
“However, all is not lost. We have recently launched a travel application that frees travellers from excessive roaming fees and international charges, all while maintaining their number whilst abroad. We have given users every communication tool they need, whether in their home country or while overseas, from voice and video calls to photo, location and media sharing. Its ability to connect users to all their contacts, irrespective of whether they are Flexiroam App users or not, will be a real attraction for consumers.
“It allows subscribers to purchase multiple international numbers from over 55 countries worldwide, providing the widest coverage of international numbers globally on a mobile application. The Flexiroam App stores the numbers and enables travellers to make and take calls at the local rate. This offers international business users the opportunity to have real numbers from different countries, converged on one application in a matter of seconds. Customers can then contact the user at the local rate, irrespective of the country the user is in at the point of the call.”
– Jef Ong, CEO at Flexiroam
The Flexiroam App is available for free on the Google Play and Apple App Store today. Flexiroam App users are able to purchase dedicated local numbers from up to 55 different countries, giving users an instant global presence for as low as US$1 per month. Flexiroam App features off-net calls enabling calls from app to landlines and international numbers for as little as US$0.01 a minute
In addition, Flexiroam offers the following money saving tips for travellers:
1 – Turn off Data Roaming
It is always important to make sure that you turn off your data roaming on your phone when travelling outside your network. This enables travellers to avoid roaming charges, as it negates the charges passed on from the local operator to your home network to access the network. The signal that informs you that you are using another carrier’s network is the “R” that appears next to the signal bars on your screen.
To disable roaming on your Android: Go to Settings>then Wireless and Networks>Mobile Networks -> Data Off
2 – Wi-Fi is a Good Option to Avoid Roaming Charges
Wi-Fi has pretty much become the equivalent of the sweet sugary scent of those freshly baked donuts from the local bakery. Our Smartphones can sniff it in the air, and the scent/signal only gets stronger as we get closer to the bakery. Which is probably why it is the first question we ask the waiter as soon as we get seated in the bakery: “What is the Wi-Fi Password?” Asking for menus as a first question is a thing of the past, that’s the second question we ask these days.
There are some great apps right now, which you can use to communicate with people while abroad using Wi-Fi spots. Instant messaging apps like Flexiroam App, WeChat and Whatsapp let you send messages, pictures, audio notes and video messages with friends, via Wi-Fi. Viber is free and lets you call, text or send pictures using Wi-Fi. But you will still need to buy a coffee or two to get that Wi-Fi password, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” or free Wi-Fi.
3 – Disable Push Notifications and Auto-Synching
Granted, the auto-sync feature on Smartphones is pretty cool to have on a phone. Remember how you used to go hunting for new emails in your inbox. But now you get an instant notification every time you get an email. However, this consumes data, along with every other automatic download that comes in on your phone.
To change this access on your iPhone, go to Settings>Mail, Calendars > Fetch New Data to turn off Push Notifications. You have the option of turning off the Push Notifications off for all apps or for individual apps. Click on the app and turn the Notification Center to “Off.”
4 – Be Aware of How Much Data You’ve Used
If you are going to use your data abroad, make sure that you keep track of the amount of data you use. With an iPhone, you can simply go to Settings > General >Cellular Usage and reset your data statistics.
For Android, you can simply go to Settings>Data Usage>Select the date range for your trip. This will allow you monitor your data usage and you will be notified once you begin going over your data plan’s limit.
Alternatively, you can download a data tracking app such as Onavo that allow users to check data usage and view data consumption of various apps, games and sites. It’s got all the essentials, including the ability to set alerts and time periods to match your billing cycle. And, it’s dead easy to install and run. An interesting feature on Onavo is the Data Usage feature that differentiates between cellular and Wi-Fi data use, so you’ll know when you’re paying for cellular or when you’ve got a free connection.
5 – Buy a Local SIM Card Once You’ve Landed
This one is a popular option for most business and leisure travellers, it’s a cheaper option too but it can also be the most difficult. Purchasing a local sim-card means that you will also get a new local phone number. You might need to compare a few mobile networks to find the best option for you. However, adding to the challenge is the language barrier, making it difficult to discuss the different options available with local SIM providers. If you decide to buy a prepaid international sim-card for travelling abroad, you’ll need to look into getting an unlocked GSM standard phone.