Idea slashes global roaming tariffs for voice, data

Idea slashes global roaming tariffs for voice, data

Summary: India's Idea Cellular offers an attractive incentive for post-paid subscribers by reducing its international roaming tariffs for both voice and data, offering savings up to 95 percent. But local SIM cards may still be cheaper options.

TOPICS: Telcos, Mobility, India

Idea Cellular has slashed international voice tariffs by 80 percent and data tariffs by 95 percent for its post-paid subscribers. reported that the Indian mobile operator will offer two roaming packs at 599 rupees (US$9.64) and 1,499 rupees (US$24.13), allowing its subscribers to roam in 40 of the most frequently traveled countries. The first pack comes with a validity of 10 days, while the second offering comes with a validity of 30 days. Furthermore, the 1,499-rupees pack includes 30 minutes of free incoming calls while roaming internationally.

If you ask me, though, the best thing to do when you're roaming internationally is to purchase a local SIM card. It's more affordable in the long run. However, getting a pre-paid SIM card in some countries isn't as easy as it is in India, and even then, in India, it now takes longer to have a pre-paid SIM card verified and activated.

I've traveled to Southeast Asia in the past and getting hold of a local SIM card, in most parts, was as simple as showing my passport, at which point a photocopy was made for internal records. In North America, though, it's not that easy. While you can get pre-paid SIM cards, it's usually bundled with a very basic phone. In other words, you end up paying more for a phone you don't need, and, the phone is also locked to the operator's network. Sure, you can take it back home and get it unlocked, but will most people want to deal with this hassle? Probably not.

That said, telecom operators do need to address international roaming rates, especially with apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, and even Skype. Furthermore, if you have an Apple device, FaceTime is another option to communicate globally.

With all the free apps available on the market today, telco's revenues and profits clearly are going down as subscribers look at more viable options to remain connected while abroad. Furthermore, with most devices Wi-Fi-enabled and can eaily access the Internet--posing another issue for telcos.

Simply put, why would I roam and incur data charges when I can use the local Wi-Fi service, which in most cases is free, to begin with?

Idea is one of the first to offer these discounted voice and data tariffs from India, but it is not the only operator to do so. Another viable option is that provided by Matrix, which also offers a pre-paid international roaming service. The mobile operator has been around for some time and had aggressively advertised in the past. However, I don't think its offeriings were that popular to begin with as, again, most travelers can simply pop in a local SIM card upon arrival.

Topics: Telcos, Mobility, India

Nitin Puri

About Nitin Puri

Originally from Canada, Nitin has been residing and working in India since 2009. He has worked in different ICT industries in countries such as India, Canada, and Tanzania. He is an avid follower and application developer within the growing mobile phone sector in India.

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  • I bought a local phone

    I travel to the Philippines every winter. I bought a simple Nokia cell phone with prepaid service. International calls are pricey but local calls and text are very cheap. I might pick up a Magic Jack to take along for international calls using my notebook as the interface.
  • Buying a Local SIM isn't Always Easy

    Nitin, good article but when you say that you can just pick up a SIM card locally, that is not always the case. Look in your own back yard in India for a great example of that. I travel a lot for work and usually by them BEFORE I leave for the trip so that I don't have to deal with buying one locally. I usually get them either from Cellular Abroad or Amazon. However, since I couldn't find one for India, I tried to get one there. Big mistake as they required two pictures so they could staple them to a form. That was my experience. Who knows if this was made up stuff from the store but regardless, it was a hassle!!! Whenever possible, I get them online. The last one I got was for Italy (the SIM was called One Mobile I think) and the convenience was well worth the money.
  • The SIM is Uno Mobile and