I travel a lot in the EU and worldwide so advances in roaming technology and pricing are of particular interest to me. In the past year there have been two major evolutions that have significantly improved my global travel experience: All EU voice and data is now included in my tariff and my operator now supports Voice over Wifi which comes in handy when I need to make calls when traveling outside the EU.
From Everywhere to Everywhere in the EU – Fixed and Mobile
While in the EU, my current fixed line and wireless contract now include calls from anywhere in the EU to anywhere in the EU. This means I can call any fixed line and mobile number from Germany (my home country) from my fixed line and my mobile phone. The same applies when I roam inside the EU. I have stopped using call by call and other methods to make calls between countries since which was always a hassle but necessary due to otherwise ridiculous pricing. Also I can use my data bucket anywhere in the EU, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland now. This means I usually don’t even bother anymore checking if I can get the hotel’s Wifi to work for me. Perfect.
Outside the EU – Not Quite Perfect Yet – But Improving
When roaming outside the EU I can get a 150 MB data bucket for around 10 euros already since 2014 so this is not new. This is usually enough for my mobile use but not enough to ignore the hotel’s Wifi. Other operators offer tariffs with a similar price tag that includes 500 MB of global roaming data per month. The one thing that has improved my global roaming, however, is Voice over Wifi (VoWifi), i.e. the extension of VoLTE to Wifi as a bearer instead of LTE. Fortunately, my network operator is actively encouraging VoWifi use when traveling abroad instead of blocking the service like other network operators. Again, that makes life a lot easier for me as all calls are billed like I’m in Germany, i.e. calls to any fixed or mobile line in the EU are included in my monthly package even when I’m on the other side of the planet. Previously I’ve used Skype on my smartphone a lot while roaming to decrease roaming costs. I still use Skype but only to Skype contacts. In other words, blocking VoWifi while roaming would just have increased my frustration with my home network operator but not their revenue. I wonder how long it takes other network operators to figure this out…