National Roaming: Dispelling the Myths

National roaming has been a hot topic during the past year, and there has been plenty of comment, conjecture and misinformation circulating about the technology, benefits and drawbacks.

As the first UK network operator to launch a SIM that roams between UK networks, we thought we’d produce a definitive guide, which has been compiled with information gathered during our extensive trials. If you have any more questions about roaming, drop us a line.

Myth: A roaming SIM will ruin my battery life.

From our extensive testing, this is not the case. Whereas a single network SIM will continually search for the home network when the signal dips out, our SIM will only search until it finds the next best option. There is no noticeable affect on phone battery life.

Myth: Roaming is only available on 2G, so will only be of use for voice calls.

Our SIM is able to roam networks for data purposes. We know that staying connected is about more than just voice, and mobile users need to have access to emails, internet and other data service to stay in touch. The SIM is also in use in the machine-to-machine (M2M) market, whereby it is solely used for data. We even use them on our iPads.

Myth: Roaming is expensive.

Because we use four separate networks (O2, Vodafone and EE - comprising Orange and T-Mobile) there is bound to be some additional cost. We’ve kept this to a minimum, and believe the system is highly competitive for the peace of mind and service it offers. We also recognise that national roaming won’t be right for everyone, but it will be invaluable for some.

Myth: I will pay to receive calls, like other non UK SIMs.

No. This is a SIM card with a UK number. Unlike international SIMs, which roam with UK network partners, we have agreements in place direct with the UK networks. As such, calls will be included within agreed packages and there won’t be any hidden charges.

Myth: Billing will be too complicated to handle.

24 Seven handles the billing in its entirety. Therefore, customers don’t have to worry about separate bills. In fact, we have a range of very simple tariffs, which correspond to how a user wants to use their phone - more data, voice or texts. Our data warehouse is also a free online portal, which enables you to monitor how your device is being used.

Myth: The technology is unworkable.

This is the type of statement trotted out by those who haven’t been able to come up with a solution. Innovation is driven by challenges like the one UK mobile users were facing. The technology exists, the processes are robust, and we have made this breakthrough for UK mobile users.

Myth: The Government says that national roaming is no longer a priority.

The Government has long sought a solution to poor mobile coverage in the UK, and in summer 2014 started to talk extensively about national roaming as a solution. At this time, we were already six months into developing our SIM.

In December 2014, the government announced they had agreed a £5bn infrastructure investment programme with the four major MNO’s, to improve mobile coverage. This is good news for consumers and the industry, and it will make our roaming SIM even more reliable.

However, these type of investments do take time, and usually face opposition during the planning process (higher phone masts are rarely popular with the communities they affect). Therefore, national roaming is the only way to improve mobile coverage now, and it may be a decision that is critical for your business.