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A Road Warrior

Dean Nicholas - Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Road Warrior’s Guide to Minimising Roaming Costs

Anyone who has travelled, whether on business or pleasure, is painfully aware of the impact of ‘roaming’ on your cellular bill. This can be a significant cost and even a deterrent to those of us who regularly travel in the quest for business outside of Anguilla.

The introduction by both our cellular providers of reduced roaming rates on both voice and data in many Caribbean markets is much appreciated. These reduced rates are, however, by no means universal; they certainly do not apply in our nearest neighbor island of St. Maarten/St. Martin. Of course St. Maarten presents the additional problem of having relatively poor cellular coverage.

The urinate solution to the dilemma of roaming charges among other things, is the implementation of a unified messaging system. Such a system usually provides email, voicemail, Instant Messaging, fax, land/cellular telephone lines and video conferencing via PCs/laptops, mobile devices, etc. An example of such a system would be achieved by an integrated implantation of Microsoft Lync, Microsoft Exchange and CISCO iPBX. Before I am accused of sales promotion let me hasten to emphasize this is merely one example and that the same result may be achieved through a combination of several similar products.

But you may well ask what such a system would deliver. The answer in a nutshell is it delivers your PBX Extension, email, Instant Messaging, Video Conferencing, etc., securely to your laptop or mobile device (iPAD, iPhone, Android phone) wherever in the world you happen to be once you have an Internet connection. This means, among many other things, that you would be able to make and receive telephone calls as if you were sitting at your desk in Anguilla, i.e., zero roaming!

"Sounds wonderful" you say, "but how much will it all cost?" There is a significant start-up cost, especially if you have to pay for the technical skills required to set up and maintain the system. Of course, NCDS already has the technical skills in-house and our rates are significantly lower than obtains elsewhere!

But what about the small businessman who really can’t afford such a system or just doesn’t have the number of employees to make it feasible? Well, here are a few hints of legal ways to reduce those roaming charges:

  • Install applications such as Skype and Vonage Mobile on your Smartphone. Not only do these applications offer usually lower prepaid calling rates, but more importantly, they offer free calling between mobile devices which have the applications installed. Additionally Vonage offers free calling to all North American numbers. Of course, all such applications require Internet service, hence my next tip.

  • Choose hotels, restaurants, etc. which offer free or low cost (under US$10/day) Wi-Fi Internet. Yes, free still exists, especially outside North America. You’d be surprised how many calls you can get made while enjoying a Big Mac, fries and a soda!

  • Practice scanning for free Wi-Fi using your mobile device. This is especially useful while enduring those long waits in airports. Even when a hot spot asks for a username or password, there’s no harm trying blank…sometimes it works!

  • Always disable voicemail on your mobile phone before travelling. Failure to do so could result in your incurring roaming charges to forward incoming calls back home to your provider’s voicemail system.

  • Block incoming calls from all but essential parties. Remember roaming charges are usually applied to incoming calls. I usually block ALL incoming calls, then review the call log and return any important calls.

  • Especially if you have an Android phone, don’t say to yourself I’ll just turn on my mobile Internet to send this one message.” The second you enable that mobile Internet, all queued messages will be sent/received…and data roaming is not cheap!

  • SMS messages, when roaming, are by no means free. It’s usually less expensive to use email or WhatsApp or even a short voice call.

We hope at least some of these suggestions will be useful in taking the shock out of your roaming charges.

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