Telecom Expense Management, Mobile Device Management, and Carrier Services Blog

Wireless Expense Management: 5 Tips to Reduce International Roaming Charges

Posted by Noel Huelsenbeck on Wed, May 28, 2008 @ 06:19 PM

Many companies call us asking for help after they've reviewed their invoice and found several thousand dollars of international roaming charges, both for voice and more and more lately data. Sometimes we can use our years of experience to get a one time credit or get charges reduced but to truly lower costs enterprises should plan ahead.

Here are the quick tips:

  1. If you have a GSM phone (AT&T and T-Mobile) get a country appropriate SIM card for voice and data while traveling internationally
  2. If you have CDMA (Verizon and Sprint) get a Worldphone like the Blackberry 8830 or Samsung IA30 which can be unlocked and use SIM cards
  3. If you have CDMA (Verizon and Sprint) and don't have a Worldphone capable of taking a SIM make sure you have an International roaming plan activated prior to leaving and placing calls in a foreign country.
  4. If you have employees expense their cell phone expenses then set the wireless expense policy for international travel and appropriate usage along with the cap amount an employee can expense prior to any employees traveling internationally and making calls.
  5. Get software to track all expenses so you can manage the users accounts proactively. Preferably from a third party not a carrier.

Planning ahead by Getting a SIM

Numerous companies like Brightroam (US based) and Sim4Travel (European based) offer solutions for global travelers and help with unlocking phones and getting country appropriate SIM cards which help enterprises substantially lower costs. Also you can buy SIM cards at almost any airport worldwide but you need to make sure your phone can take SIM cards and is unlocked.

Having people contact you when you're in a foreign country can be challenging when you have a SIM and not your main cell phone number. There are numerous work arounds that we, a techie friend, or your companies telecom/IT department can implement to make sure you receive those calls.

CDMA Users get a Worldphone For International Travel

Most of the world uses GSM which uses SIM cards for establishing a connection to the network. Most of the USA is CDMA based meaning you can not use a SIM card unless you have a phone like the Blackberry 8830 Worldphone or Samsung IA30.

Select an International Roaming Plan

Rates can vary by dollars or more per minute between plans so having the correct international roaming plan assigned BEFORE the trip could save you lots of money. Again we might be able to get a one time credit for a "lack of understanding" but the carriers know you have very little leverage (you'll pay because you want to keep your number right?)

When Employees Expense Phones

Managing international roaming is tough enough when the enterprise owns the device and pays the bill but things can get really challenging when employees expense their wireless usage but have a cap of say $100. If employees are on a business trip, making business calls, which are billed to their personal cell phone, that then gets expensed will the company cover the charges over and above the $100?

What if the employee incurs $3,000 in international roaming charges while on a business trip? Who's responsible? This is something that should be discussed and detailed in the wireless policy so there are no misunderstandings. We find many times companies fail to provide a written policy and when that $3,000 invoice hits the employees mailbox and the company says the cap is $100 things can get very heated.

Get Expert Help

International roaming is one of the least understood services with the highest potential financial liability. Having a team of experts, a strigent wireless policy along with Wireless Expense Management Software is a great way to control that financial liability.

Topics: International roaming, SIM cards

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