You would have seen the “Keep it simple silly” ad by Tata Docomo that makes fun of the concept called “roaming charges”. Roaming is a term in the telecom industry which refers to the service/connectivity extension when you move out of your home location. For example, when you have taken a mobile phone connection with Airtel in Chennai and move out to other cities or states, airtel chennai will have to tap onto the visiting area’s network to maintain the connectivity. The visiting area network might belong to a different operator such as vodafone, aircel, idea, bsnl or even Airtel itself. When you are roaming out of your home network, you would be charged under “roaming tariff” which would be generally much higher than the home tariff.
When you are roaming within India or the home country, the “domestic roaming tariff” applies. When you step out of the home country and move in to a foreign land, “International roaming tariff” applies. International roaming charges can be quite steep; if you end up using them without clear knowledge you might have to cough up loads of money from your wallet!
Needless to say, mobile operators make lot of money through roaming. It’s reported that around 15-20% of overall revenue comes from roaming charges for mobile operators!
Is there a way to save the international roaming charges when you travel abroad? Yes. One of the solution is the World SIM services. There are few players in India who offer this world SIM Services in India. The players are mentioned below:
Airtel World SIM
Airtel World SIM Card is a special pre-paid SIM card that allows you to make and receive international calls from your airtel India number and still save upto 85% on international calling rates. If you are an existing pre-paid/postpaid airtel subscriber, you can just walk into airtel relationship centre and apply for world sim kit. Airtel would have over a world sim kit to you which will contain a world sim. You need to follow the steps below to activate world sim from Airtel
1. Send an SMS “AWS A” to 58125 from your airtel india number (SIM) to activate your world sim service. Once your world sim card is activated, your india sim card would be deactivated.
2. Once you land in the destination country, insert your world sim into your phone. You will continue to receive calls to your India airtel number and can make outgoing calls to India now.
The tariffs vary from country to country. To check out the tariff at the country you are visiting, click here. Once you are back in India, you can surrender the SIM card to your airtel relationship centre and can deactivate the world SIM service.
Airtel World SIM is available only in Delhi-NCR region now. The service will be rolled out to other states very soon!
Reliance Passport World SIM
Reliance Passport World SIM is slightly different from Airtel World SIM. When you sign up for Reliance passport SIM, you would get a new SIM card and a permanent international number (based on the country you are visiting). This number will remain with you for lifetime (Not sure, if this is a good strategy!). This SIM card will work on 160+ countries and in 36 countries, you get free incoming calls (not bad!). When you are back in India, you can continue to receive calls on the same number with a unique call-forwarding feature (The usecase : To be in touch with your international business partners). Again, the tariff varies from country to country and the details are available in the website.
Contact 1-800-3001-3333 or 022-39152600 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get world sim connection and activate the service.
Vodafone World Calling Card
Vodafone world calling card is a different option from those of reliance and airtle. Here, you would get a scratch card with 12/14 digit pin number. To make international calls, you need to dial the tollfree number mentioned at the back of the calling card or dial 50118, 50218 or 50318. When prompted you should enter your 12/14 digit PIN. To make ISD Call, you should dial ‘00’ followed by the ISD code of the country and the phone number. Depending on the tariff, the charges would be debited from the card value.
Matrix Calling Cards
Matrix is a company that provides international roaming sims for rental. To buy world sim cards from matrix call up +91 53 22232222. A representative would visit you and will provide you the sim after collecting relevant documents from you.
Clay Telecom Cards
Clay is another international SIM card provider. To avail their service, you need to call 1-800-102-1113 (toll free number). In addition to International SIM cards (prepaid/postpaid), they also provide global data cards.