Roaming — Explainer on the services offered by MTN, Airtel, 9mobile and Globacom

One of the few telecommunication word that you might not be in cognizant of, but regularly become aware of by virtue of it’s wide use is “roaming”. The apparent cluelessness about its denotation is due to its association with international travel: an undertaking most of us haven’t the opportunity to experience.

Roaming is a unique term used in the telecommunication ambience to denote the use of a regular network carrier in another country where your local network isn’t accessible, although a convey had been agreed on to allow for a seamless use at this new travel location. You make and receive calls, send and receive SMS and access data services for a location-varied prices.

Roaming

A roaming agreement is agreed upon by the home carrier, suggestively: MTN, Airtel, Globacom or 9mobile, with a foreign carrier for its traveling customers to employ the foreign network while still retaining their identity with the home telecom provider. Telecom operators popularise the process because it’s an effective gateway to upsurge their revenue, inflating rates at will as no international law regulates roaming prices.

Before Roaming

Before considering roaming, have a look at the network bands supported by your phone. Different telecom operator operates on different licensed frequency band, implying that a smartphone which is effective in a particular region could turn useless at another.

This might not be a challenge though, as most new smartphones support majority of the bands used by popular telcos.

Be specific on the foreign operator you need to roam with. Double-check from your local carrier’s catalogue, the roaming operators it’s supports for the country you’re traveling to. You might also save yourself future distress if you research on the foreign carrier you so choosed and it’s availability for the specific region you are poised for.

How to roam

To roam with your Nigerian carrier or practically any network carrier, you need to observe certain requisites. They are:

Roam international

  1. Research on the foreign operator that your local telco recommends to roam with in your travel destination.
  2. If you are prepaid subscriber, topup your line
  3. Activate your choice roaming bundle
  4. Upon arrival at your travel destination:
    • Go to your phone’s main menu, select Settings
    • Select Phone Settings
    • Select Network Selection
    • Choose Manual Selection (you can alternatively go for automatic search to any recommended foreign network).
    • Select [the foreign network carrier you so require (it must be supported as a roam carrier by your local operator)] after the manual search returns results
  5. You are ready to receive, make and send calls & sms.

Note, while on roaming, calls and sms should be made using the international format. That is, the recipient’s country code should be added before the digits. Nigeria’s calling code is +234.

Roaming With Airtel Nigeria

Airtel currently has two kinds roaming bundles — the Roam and Home bundle and the Roam and Browse bundle.

The Roam and Home bundle allows for making of calls as low as N60 per 20 sec and SMS at a rate of N50 per message.

The bundle is applicable to the following 27 countries and the respective carriers:

Bangladesh – Airtel;Belgium – Proximus; Benin – Moov Benin; Canada – Bell; Canada -Telus; Chad – Airtel; Congo (Brazaville) – Airtel; Congo DRC – Airtel; France – SFR; Gabon – Airtel; Germany – Telefonica O2; Ghana – Airtel; India – Airtel; Italy – Vodafone; Israel – Orange; Kenya – Airtel; Malawi – Airtel; Qatar – Qtel; Rwanda – Airtel; Saudi Arabia – STC; Saudi Arabia – Zain; South Africa – Vodacom; South Africa – Cell C; Spain – Telefonica O2; Spainb- Vodafone; Sri Lanka – Airtel; Tanzania – Airtel; Togo – TogoCellular; Uganda – Airtel; United Arab Emirates – DU; United Arab Emirates – Etisalat; United Kingdom – Orange; United Kingdom – Telefonica O2; United Kingdom – Vodafone; United States – AT&T; United States – T-Mobile.

Bundles are priced as low as N5,000. While these sort of bundle gives 7 days validity, those above N10,000 gives 30 days validity. There’s also a promissory of a 100 minutes free incoming calls while roaming in Roam and Home destinations.

Airtel roaming

To view the arrays of bundles and subscription, dial *789#.

The Roam and Browse allows for ‘discounted’ data use while Roaming. The following are the available roam and browse bundles:

Data BundleValidityZone 1Zone 2Zone 3Zone 4
100MB1 dayN5,000N10,000N30,000N1,000
500MB7 daysN15,000N40,000N140,000NA
1 GB30 daysN30,000N75,000NAN7,500
3 GB30 daysN80,000NANANA

To subscribe to any of the above bundles, dial *789#.

Zone 1

Belgium – Proximus; Germany – Telefonica O2; Italy – Vodafone; Saudi Arabia – STC; Saudi Arabia – Zain; South Africa – Vodacom; South Africa – Cell C; Spain – Telefonica O2; Spain – Vodafone; United Kingdom – Vodafone; United Kingdom – Telefonica O2; United Kingdom – Orange; United States – T-Mobile; – United States – AT&T.

Zone 2

Qatar – Qtel; United Arab Emirates – DU; United Arab Emirates – Etisalat

Zone 3

Bangladesh – Airtel; France – SFR; Israel – Orange; Benin – Moov Benin;Togo – TogoCellular; Sri Lanka – Airtel.

Zone 4

Congo B – Airtel; Congo DRC – Airtel; Gabon – Airtel; Ghana – Airtel; India – Airtel; Kenya – Airtel; Madagascar – Airtel; Malawi – Airtel; Niger – Airtel; Rwanda – AirtelT; chad – Airtel; Tanzania – Airtel; Uganda – Airtel; Zambia – Airtel

Roaming with MTN Nigeria

MTN Nigeria is the largest telecom network in the country. The leading operator boast of offering its roaming services with more than 500 telco partners in more than 150 countries.

Like Airtel, the telco offers two set of roaming but here, under the cover of a different name.

Roaming with MTN

The MTN Voice + Data Bundle offers three unique category of bundles in the small, medium, and large sizes. Outgoing/incoming minutes, data offering, and outgoing SMS all depends on their respective bundle size.

Bundle TypeSmallMediumLarge
Price₦5,000₦10,000₦15,000
Incoming call minutes2545100
Outgoing call minutes406075
Outgoing SMS51025
Data (MB)N/A100200
Validity7 days14 days30 days
Eligible destinations1. Australia 2. Canada 3. Cameroon 4. China 5. Cyprus 6. Ghana 7. Czech Republic 8. France 9. Iran 10. Germany 11. Greece 12. Hungary 13. Ireland 14. South Africa, 15. Italy 16. Kenya 17. Malta 18. Netherlands 19. New Zealand 20. Portugal 21. Romania 22. Saudi Arabia 23. Spain 24. Switzerland 25. Turkey 26. United Kingdom 27. United States of America

Dial *559*81# to check the roaming voice + data bundle.

There’s the MTN Data Only Bundle which gives only data to succor your browsing wants.

Roaming Data Bundle for MTN Countries ONLY

Bundle TypeSmallLarge
Price₦3,000₦5,000
Data Volume (MB)200500
Validity7 days14 days
Eligible destinations:Afghanistan, Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Iran, Liberia, Congo Brazzaville, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia, Swaziland, Yemen

Roaming Data Bundles for other countries (Where there’s no MTN branded operator)

Bundle TypeSmallLarge
Price₦5,000₦10,000
Data Volume (MB)200500
Validity7 days14 days
Eligible destinations:Australia, Austria, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, USA, Canada.

Dial *559*82# to check the roaming voice + data bundle.

Any of the MTN Roaming Bundles could be subscribed to by dialing *123*4#. Checkout the country-specified calls,SMS, and PAYG data rates here.

9mobile roaming and it’s accompanying bundles

The 9mobile brand offers some unique roaming packages for data aswell as for calls. The two apparent ones slated for data are the international bundles and the hybrid bundles.

9mobile roam

Hybrid roaming bundle

This bundle allows for an unperturbed access to emails, chats and routine internet browsing while roaming abroad in applicable destinations. However, pay as you go applies when bundle is exhausted.

The 24 destinations/countries with applicable networks are as follows: Austria (T-mobile), Burkina faso (Orange/Airtel), Cameroon (Orange), Canada (Bell, Telus), Denmark (Teliasonera), Germany (O2, T-Mobile), Ghana (Airtel), Ivory Coast (Orange), Guinea (Orange), Liberia (Orange/Cellcom), Malaysia (U- mobile), Mali (Orange), Morocco (Orange), Netherlands (T-mobile), Niger (Orange), Senegal (Orange), Spain (Teliasonera, O2), South Africa (Telkom), Switzerland (Swisscom), Taiwan (Chunghwa), Turkey (Turkcell), UAE (Etisalat, DU), UK (O2) & USA (AT&T).

The sole hybrid plan gives 200MB of data at a cost of ₦5000, valid for 30days. According to the telco, this is equivalent to 15GB when in Nigeria. Dialing *8659# and subsequently following instruction prompt, allows for subscription to the package.

International bundles

This package allows for use of purchased data while roaming in 19 destinations.

Applicable countries/ networks are as follows: Austria (T-mobile), Belgium (Base), China (China Mobile), France (SFR), Germany (Telefonica, T-Mobile), Ghana (Vodafone), Israel (Partner), Italy (Vodafone), Japan (Softbank), Kenya (Safaricom), Malaysia (Maxis), Netherland (KPN, Vodafone, T-mobile), Qatar (Ooeradoo), South Africa (Cell C, Vodacom), Spain (Telia Sonera, Telefonica, Vodafone), Taiwan (Chunghwa), Turkey (Turkcell, Vodafone), UAE (Etisalat, DU) & UK (Vodafone, Telefonica).

Two packages are offered here:

  • The 200MB data plan which costs ₦5000 & valid for 7days. – Dial *6589*1*1# or sms “Weekly” to 6589 to activate.
  • The 500MB plan which costs ₦10,000 & valid for 30days. – Dial *6589*1*2# or sms “Monthly” to 6589 to opt in.

To check data balance, dial *228#; dial *6589*0# or sms OFF to 6889 to opt out of any of the listed packages.

Calling rates are as follows:

  • United Kingdom: calls per minute is N150; PAYG data is N2 per 10kb; SMS is charged at N50.
  • Spain: calls charged at N150 per minute; PAYG data at N1 per 10kb; N50 per SMS.
  • Turkey: calls are charged at N150; PAYG data is N1 per 10kb; SMS at N50/message.
  • Netherlands: PAYG at N1 per 10kb; calls at N150 per minute; N50 per SMS.
  • Germany: N50 per SMS; PAYG at N1 per 10kb; N150 per minute.
  • South Africa: PAYG rate at N150; call rate is N150 per minute and N50 per SMS.
  • Ghana: N50 per SMS charge; PAYG data at N1 per 10kb; calls at N150 per minute.
  • Egypt: calls at N150/min; SMS at N50/message; PAYG at N1/10kb
  • Kenya: calls at N150/min; SMS at N100/SMS; PAYG at N1/10kb
  • France: Calls at N150/min; N50/min for SMS; N2/10kb for PAYG.
  • Morocco: Calls are at N150/min; N50/min for SMS; N1/10kb for PAYG data.
  • UAE: calls at N250/min; PAYG are charged at N2/10kb; N50 per SMS.
  • Canada: PAYG data at N1 per 10kb; calls at N150/minute; SMS at N50 per SMS.
  • Australia: calls at rate of N150/min; N50 per SMS; PAYG data at N1 per 10kb.
  • China: calls at N150/minute; PAYG data at N1/10kb; SMS at N50/message:
  • Hong Kong: calls at N150/min, PAYG data at N1 per 10kb and N50 per SMS.
  • Ireland: N150/minute for calls; PAYG data at N1/10kb; N50/SMS.
  • Italy: N50/SMS; calls at N150/min; PAYG data at N1/10kb
  • Portugal: calls at N150/minute; PAYG data at N1 per 10kb; N50/SMS.
  • Ivory Coast: calls at N150/minute; N50/SMS; PAYG at N1 per 10kb.
  • Japan: calls at N150/minute; PAYG charged at N1 per 10kb; N50 per SMS.
  • Malaysia: calls at N150/minute; PAYG data charged at N1 per 10kb; 350/SMS

Roaming with Glo Nigeria

Globacom is Nigerias best telecommunication operator when data volume offering is brought to the table. It is an indigenous franchise owned by billionaire, Mike Adenuga. Reviewing through their dedicated web portal, only three general roaming packages were put up by Globacom. These were the Glo Business Roaming, the Prepaid Roaming, and the Glo Unlimited Roaming with all three unique in their give offs.

Roam with Globacom

Glo Business Roaming

Glo business plan allows for voice, SMS and GPRS services. Activating such demands a visit to any the telco’s outlets countrywide and payment of an unrefundable subscription fee of 50,000 Naira.

This should be done 2-3 days before your trip.

Glo Prepaid Roaming

This package is different from the one above, in that it only allows for voice and SMS but not GPRS services. This plan is restricted to only prepaid customers, implying that, such subscribers have roaming enabled by default on their lines.

According to the indiginous brand, activating this type of roaming demands a downhill task of just only topping up of your credit with the desired amount you wish to spend during your trip.

View Glo’s default roaming rates for each applicable countries here. (You would need to navigate towards the floor of the page to access the needful drop-down menu containing the list of applicable countries.)

Glo Unlimited Roaming Bundle

Glo unlimited bundle allows you make outgoing calls at a consolidated rate of N100/min. The bundle goes for a validity of 15 days after which the default international roaming rates usurps role.

The telecom network promises a provision of 60mins of free incoming calls during the 15 days validity period. There’s also a promissory of 15 free SMS upon subscription.

The PAYG data rate is N0.15/kb.

Upon the expiration of your 15 days validity, you can renew your bundle using any of the long-standing customary methods.

The following countries and carriers supports the Glo Unlimited bundle:
Brazil — TIM; Cameroon — Orange; Canada — Telus and Bell; Cote d’Ivoire — Orange; Germany — E-plus; Estonia — Tele3; Guinea — Orange; India — Aircel; Italy — TIM and WIND; Kazakhstan — Tele2; Latvia — Tele3; Lithuania —Tele4; Mali — Orange; Netherlands — KPN  and Tele2; Niger — Orange; UAE — Du; Russia — Vimpelcom; South Africa — Cell C; South Korea — KT; Spain — Telefonica; Sweden — Tele2; Switzerland — Swisscom; UK — Telefonica O2 & Everything Everywhere; USA — AT&T.

The subscription fee for the ‘Unlimited roaming bundle’ is N2,500.

End Note

Roaming is earnestly necessary for travellers who intend on a short abroad journey: the stress of registering for a new courier during your travel, keeping up with local contacts and syncing old carrier details with the new could be enormous.

However, if you intend on staying at your travel location for several months, it is recommended you get a local carrier there. This minimises avoidable costs.

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A potential electrical/electronics engineer in the making, a phone addict and a motivating partner.While he's not researching through with his phone, Daniel spends his time with the books.Twitter: @MrDoubleDaniel Fav. quote: The habit of persistence is the habit of victory!

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