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Does your business have its roaming charges under control?

In today’s digital economy, businesses, as well as their employees and clients, expect a greater deal of mobility than ever before. With that in mind, near-constant connectivity is essential, whether it’s via phone, SMS or online communication.

In order for businesses to truly take advantage of this, they must be knowledgeable regarding EU and global roaming regulations and also the contracts that their employees are signed up to.

Fortunately, there is assistance being provided by telecoms firms in the form of business travel plans. Networks are beginning to recognise the importance of their business customers and are offering simple and effective roaming add-ons to ensure that productivity doesn’t take a hit just because you’re no longer based in your home country.

A number of mobile network providers are offering plans that charge a flat daily rate for unlimited calls and texts and a set data allowance within the EU. Often this service can be easily added to an existing business contract and only comes into effect when you use your phone abroad, meaning you don’t face extra charges when at home. Similar plans can also be implemented outside of Europe, although businesses may face increased charges.

EE offers a variety of roaming add-ons, for example, ensuring that there’s a plan to suit your employee’s needs wherever they’re travelling to and no matter how much data they require. The Euro Pass provides unlimited roaming calls and texts, plus 100MB of full speed data for £3.33 (ex. VAT) a day, while a US-centric add-on gives you 20MB of data for just £3 (ex. VAT) a day. Businesses may also want to consider the EE Extra plan as this automatically provides unlimited roaming calls and texts in more than 39 countries.

Moreover, flexibility within roaming plans is something that more network providers are beginning to offer. No two businesses are the same and each will have its own distinct needs when it comes to international travel. Add-ons are available that enable you to decide how much data you need and at what speed, ensuring that businesses of all sizes have their finances in their own hands.

For many modern businesses, however, staying connected isn’t dependent solely upon smartphone use. Tablets are becoming vital workplace tools and many devices now use a SIM card to get online when Wi-Fi networks are not available. When all these online access points are added together, it means that businesses will need to manage data connections across a large number of devices. One of the most effective ways of achieving this is through a shared data plan that spreads minutes, texts and data across multiple devices and users to ensure that the business gets maximum value.

Once again, flexibility and choice are the critical factors for organisations moving to a shared data plan, with a number of network providers offering bespoke contracts to suit the specific needs of your company. As well as selecting how many devices and users will be on the plan, businesses can also choose their own contract length. This is particularly important considering the amount of temporary and contract employees making up the workforce today.

It is estimated that one-fifth of all employees will be temporary workers by 2022, but companies need to ensure these members of staff are just as well equipped as their permanent colleagues. EE roaming plans allow businesses to add 30-day SIM cards to their contract, enabling their temporary staff to work abroad productively during their time at the company. Temporary work may be short term, but this doesn’t mean it should cut corners, so ensuring staff remain connected while abroad is crucial.

There are also a number of easy-to-follow tips that business customers should follow in order to keep their roaming charges under control. Make sure employees, where possible, take advantage of free Wi-Fi in order to keep costs down, but of course, businesses won’t want to impose tight restrictions on their members of staff as this could hinder productivity.

Instead, they may wish to put together some internal guidelines for how to side-step large roaming charges. For example, avoiding data heavy services, like video and music streaming, helps to reduce costs while abroad. If you’re travelling to somewhere on the border of two different countries, employees should also note that it’s possible for mobile signals to “roam” across the border and pick up the signal from the neighbouring state. Depending on your roaming tariff, this could affect the rate that you pay for calls, texts and data, so be sure to check your phone to see where your network is based.

Last year’s Mobile Solutions Study found that 60 per cent of the businesses surveyed regarded mobility as “critical” to their organisation, highlighting that firms can’t focus simply on what’s happening inside their office walls. Mobility brings benefits and challenges that must be met at home and abroad. In the past, companies could argue that networks did not always provide enough assistance to help them manage their roaming bills effectively, but this is no longer a valid argument.

Travelling is vital for businesses of any size and the economy is now truly a global marketplace. Companies cannot afford to avoid travelling abroad if they wish to grow and develop contacts internationally, but nor can they afford to pay exorbitant roaming charges.

Fortunately, with some industry knowledge and the right mobile package, businesses can experience all the benefits of the free market without the hefty price tag.