Thinking about roaming? Think Again!
If you decide to use your own phone and roam on a local network the cost can be very high especially when using a smart phone. This is because some service providers will bill you anytime your phone downloads from the network. This is something that smart phones do so you will be billed even without making a call. Remember, telecom companies charge different international rates depending on if you are dialing to a cell phone or to a landline. Calls to cell phones are generally significantly more expensive. Therefore, if you ask you usual carrier what the rate is to call, say Canada or the United Kingdom, by default they will give you the landline rate which is misleading. Some ‘smart’ phone applications (aka ‘apps’) are also known to request data downloads on a regular basis. This data downloading by applications can also cause large phone bills. In addition, some ‘smart’ phone applications (aka ‘apps’) that require the use of downloaded material which is copyrighted, for example applications using music, video, etc., will not work in your vacation destination because of licensing issues related to the copyrighted data.
When traveling internationally once your phone is turned on in the country you are traveling you are registered internationally and all calls to your cell phone are billed at the international rate, whether you phone is turned on or not. It’s called an international divert. This is because the network will not know your phone is not on until it tries to contact it. An incoming call has to go to the international network to try your phone. It is then routed back to your home network to “complete” the call to your voice mailbox. Therefore, the call is in fact going through both your home network (USA) and the roaming network . A call starting in New York City (USA) would go from NYC to the where you are on vacation, and then back to the USA to complete the call. You have to pay for the call on both your home network and the international network. Not all providers do this.
Cell phone networks in the United States use several different technologies to transmit information. Only one of these, time division multiple access (TDMA) supports Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), the international standard used in Europe, Australia and much of Asia and Africa. This is also the standard used in Jamaica