The Savvy Football Fan’s Guide to Avoiding World Cup Roaming Charges in...

The Savvy Football Fan’s Guide to Avoiding World Cup Roaming Charges in Brazil

The Savvy Football Fan's Guide to Avoiding World Cup Roaming Charges in Brazil
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The Savvy Football Fan’s Guide to Avoiding World Cup Roaming Charges in Brazil

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If this summer’s smorgasbord of sport sees you jet-setting off to sunnier South American climes (you lucky son of a gun, you), data roaming charges are probably the last thing on your mind. The drama, the artistry, the passion, the controversy, almost certainly. Sun, sea, sand and samba, maybe. How many megabytes you’re getting for your pound – probably not.

 

Yet, with most of us using our mobiles in most places without a second’s thought, making sure you’re clued up on your contract and on board with your provider’s Brazilian roaming charges is a shrewd move (presuming you’re not too keen on coming home to an eye-watering bill). There’s been plenty of shock-horror scaremongering about this month, with uSwitch warning of £5000 bills and the Telegraph predicting £486 a day charges for football fanatics who get their mobile data badly wrong. So, if you’re ready to start Instagramming your Brazilian summer of football glory, or planning to live tweet the action to your mates back in Blighty, I’d seriously recommend using a little of your (potentially costly) bandwidth to read this first…

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The Savvy Football Fan's Guide to Avoiding World Cup Roaming Charges in Brazil

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Option 1: Try smaller, data-only providers

UK (and European) providers may be being forced to address their roaming charges within the borders of the EU, but across the rest of the globe, they’re still able to charge whatever they like. In Europe, the EU has ruled that roaming charges are to be abolished completely by December 2015 and, as this free-data new dawn draws closer, increasingly stringent caps are being placed on the cost of roaming within the European Union.

Now, my geography’s not the sharpest, but I’m willing to bet that Brazil falls outside of the EU’s borders, which means that your provider can pretty much charge you whatever they want for data (not to mention calls), and apply penalties for breaching your capped usage. With most high street providers like O2 (£6 per MB), Vodaphone (£3 per MB) and Orange (£8 per MB) still going strong with their Brazilian data charges, it’s up to smaller providers to show the big boys how it’s done.

Fortunately, there’s a growing number of increasingly popular data-only SIM providers out there (MobiData is my personal holiday pick if you’re keen to learn more) who offer blindingly better rates which just make sense. If it’s feasible for the EU to do away with roaming charges, why should they cost an arm and a proverbial leg elsewhere? These data-only providers represent the real cost of using data overseas and provide a much fairer alternative. With plans offering 100MB of free roaming data, followed by data at 0.15p per MB, it’s easy to pop a fresh, fair data-only SIM into your slot and start saving on sending those selfies next to the Sugarloaf.

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The Savvy Football Fan's Guide to Avoiding World Cup Roaming Charges in Brazil

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Option 2: Download a data monitor app

You might not want to do this once you’re already under Brazil’s sunny skies, but if you don’t want to use an alternative provider, it’s important that you stay on top of your data package – so download something that helps you monitor your megabytes before you leave. It’s also imperative that you know your onions on a few other fronts including:

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  • Understanding your current mobile phone plan
  • Being aware of any nasty little extras (such as charges for exceeding your data allowance)
  • Knowing how many megabytes smartphone activities use up
  • Keeping a tab on how many megabytes you’ve used

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The first two points here mean going back and casting a beady eye over your contract. If you like, you can contact your provider and inform them of your big trip. They may be able to recommend a better plan or bolt-on package to make your data a little bit more affordable – they’ll also be able to tell you exactly what you’ll get and whether there are any extra charges to watch out for.

Regarding how many megabytes you use, that’s a slightly trickier one as this will vary depending on your smartphone and data connection. Typically though, I’d say sending a quick tweet or checking an image-heavy email is probably (very roughly) equivalent to 1MB of data. The very best way to keep track of how much data you use is to download a data monitor app. Some providers will warn you when you’re approaching your data cap, others won’t. Keep an eye on how much you’re using with a tool like 3G Watchdog (for Android), Onavo Count (for both Android and iOS) or Data Usage (for iOS).
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Option 3: Go Rogue

Turn off your phone, turn off mobile data, turn off WiFi, in fact throw the whole darn thing out of the window and pick up a cheapo local SIM so you can locate your mates at the after party. You’re in Brazil, baby!

 

Are you heading to Brazil for a bit of the action? Will you be sending hundreds of tweets and uploading photos to make your mates jealous? Do you have a data-only SIM or are you planning to be very careful with your current package? Share your experience with our readers below…

Pictures via Flickr from CLFTrey Ratcliff and George

Peter Maxwell-Green is a freelance blogger, football enthusiast and certified technology nerd with a penchant for playing with the shiniest new smartphones.

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