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International Roaming and Whats it all about.

Level 28: Ingenious
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Welcome to the O2 Community!

If you need any advice, go ahead and create a forum post HERE

** Please read the following amendments to the article that allows for EU Roaming changes on the 15th June.


Roaming and what’s it about?

Roaming is when you are no longer able to Pick Up your home Network (O2-UK). This is normally when you are in another country. However, it is possible to pick up French Network when in UK and the Irish Networks when you’re still in Northern Ireland.  But if your phone is displaying anything else besides O2-UK or BT Cellnet (On Some Older Phones), then you are Roaming on a Foreign Network and Roaming Charges will apply if Services are used.


Is O2-DE the same as O2-UK?

The answer is no. O2-DE is a completely independent business to O2-UK and therefore Roaming Charges would apply.

O2-DE (O2 Germany) and O2-UK (O2 United Kingdom) are both Parts of the Telefonica Group, but this is all and is 2 Separate businesses



Do I need to Activate Roaming?

If you are an O2 PAYG Customer then Roaming is activated automatically as you can only spend what you have in Credit.

O2 Contract customers may need to call 202 to confirm they have Roaming Activated on their account if they have never used the service before or had issues in the past.



How does Roaming Work?

When you travel outside your Home Network, your Mobile Phone Sim will ask the Roaming (Foreign) network first if it can use the services on their Network. (You IMEI number of your phone is also sent to verify it’s not the Stolen / Missing Database as well)


The Foreign Network will take details from your Sim card and go back to the International Centre and check if O2 has an agreement first to use the Network and then if the Sim card is activated to use the Roaming. (This is why there is a delay sometimes in first switching on your mobile to you getting a signal and a Network Name)


If all comes back ok, then the Sim will receive instruction and you notice the Roaming Network Name shown on your phone.


What you may not know is that when the phone is authorised to use the Roaming Network, It is given a temporary allocated foreign number of the country you are visiting.


So you may have someone calling you and they may notice that the Ring tone suddenly sounds different in their Earpiece and not like the UK Ring. This is because of the Foreign Number allocated and that you are roaming on their Countries Network.


One this you will never know though is the Temporary Roaming Number as this is only a Forward number and changes.



So what charges do you pay for when roaming?

  • Making Calls?                     Yes you pay for all of the Call.
  • Receiving Calls?                                Yes you pay for the Roaming country Inbound Part of the Call.
  • Sending a SMS?                                Yes you pay to send a SMS.
  • Receiving a SMS?             No it’s free to receive a SMS.
  • Sending a MMS?              Yes you pay to send a MMS.
  • Receiving a MMS?           You may be charged for Data Usage to receive the MMS ( I never have on O2, But I know other UK networks charge)
  • Data Usage                         Is all chargeable



The Person who is Calling or Texting you from the UK.


This is where a lot of confusion becomes and people become worried regarding charges.


Simple Fact to Remember:

Even though the person you are contacting is abroad. You are still only calling their UK Mobile Number. So treat it as they are still in the UK.


So for example:

If you have free UK Text allowance, it will still be Free (Your Texting a UK Mobile Number)

If you have Free UK Minutes, then again you are calling a UK Mobile Number, so it will use your UK Minutes Allowance.

If you don’t have Free Allowances, then you will be charged at your normal standard Rate of ringing the UK or Texting a UK Mobile number



A couple of Questions and Answers that may come in useful:


Q)   I’m abroad and my friend is abroad, will I be charged to contact my friend as I’m only calling a UK Mobile number

A)   Yes, even though you are calling a UK Mobile Number. You are not in the UK and the person you are calling isn’t, so you will pay the Roaming Charges to make the call and the person who is receiving the call will pay the inbound part of the charge. If you’re roaming in our Europe Zone this will be included within your UK allowance; within countries included in O2 Travel, this will activate the £4.99 fee. More information here and here


Q)   Why am I charged twice for Voice Mail Messages?

A)   When someone tries to contact you and you don’t answer, the call is then passed back to the O2-UK voice mail as a return call, So you pay for the Return part of the call even though you didn’t answer your Mobile. Then when you want to listen to your voice mail, you pay to make the call and listen to it. So this is where Double Charges apply


Q)   Why are inbound SMS free when I’m abroad?

A)   This was set by the EU Telecoms Parliament, that any EU Mobile Company must allow their users to allow incoming SMS for Free anywhere in the world.


Q)   What is the Difference between Roaming and Home Networks?

A)   Your home network is on your network where you purchased the Sim from. So if you purchased your Sim card in the UK and from O2, your home network would be O2-UK and you would be allocated a UK Mobile number.

Roaming is when you are no longer on your home network. So, for example, you go to Spain and you pick up Telefonica ES. This means you are Roaming on a Spanish Network.


If you have any other questions please ask and I will gladly try to answer them and will keep editing the 1st thread to make it easier for everyone to read.