By Etop Ekanem

The joy of anyone traveling abroad for business or leisure is to stay in touch with family, friends and associates back home, but the cost burden that sometime comes with roaming service is a disincentive for many.

Roaming one’s mobile telephone line while overseas can be a pain point because many travellers will tell you of the associated high cost. From experience, once you step into another country and the local network detects your phone number, you’re deemed to be roaming and charged a higher rate when you access the Internet to check emails,make or receive calls, or send or receive an SMS.

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For subscribers who must for reasons of exigency remain connected to loved ones, employees or business associates back in Nigeria, some resort to devising creative workarounds. For example, to avoid paying exorbitant roaming charges, somestay around airports, lounges or business hubs where they can access free WiFi. Some purchase local SIM cards and temporarily drop their local numbers. Some choose to send text messages only for most important urgent matters and avoid online activities such as browsing until they return home.

When the Global System of Mobile telecommunications, GSM services were launched in Nigeria, in 2001, many travellers suffered incidences of bill shockdue to limited knowledge about roaming service. They paid higher bills than expected when they roamed their phones abroad. Sadly, despite increased knowledge, a significant number of subscribers are still ignorant about how roaming works. So, they experience bill shock.

To buttress this problem, Ade Otunla, an entrepreneur, recalled how he coped in the early days of GSM when he didn’t know how to reduce roaming charges.

“I only sent text messages to my wife when I travelled. I didn’t make voice calls or use the internet except it was available for free. Retrospectively, I can’t believe I really did all those when I could have approached my network provider to get an affordable plan,” he said. There are many more Nigerians that share similar experiences to Mr. Otunla’s.

Thankfully, however, things are now changing for the better as Mobile Network Operators, MNOs, continuously identify high cost of roaming as a serious pain point for most travellers and proffering innovative solutions to stem the problem. One of the ways they are responding to this is by introducing various roaming packages that suit the customer’s pockets.

Customer-friendly telecom company, 9mobile, since it commenced operations in Nigeria over 11 years ago, has stood out by consistently offering attractive pocket-friendly roaming rates amongst other innovative products and services.

The telco recently further affirmed commitment to enabling its subscribers to stay connected to their loved ones anywhere across the globe with the launch of three affordable roaming packages that offer lowest voice calls, SMS and data rates for customers travelling to the United States, United Arab Emirates, and 44 other European and African countries. The roaming packages are ‘US Super 50 Offer’,’UAE Super 50 Offer’ and ‘Euro Afrique Offer.’

With 9mobile ‘Super 50 Offer’, customers on the network can now make or receive calls for as low as N50 per minute, send or receive SMS at N50 per page, as well as use data at N50/MB on a pay-as-you-go basis. These latest offers enable 9mobile customers travelling to any of these 46 destinations to stay connected with their loved ones back home without any inconvenience.

The US ‘Super 50 Offer’ is currently the lowest package offered by any Nigerian network operator to customers travelling to the USA. Calls within the US and calls to Nigeria are charged at N50 per minute; incoming calls at N50 per minute; SMS at N50 per page; while PAYG data is now N50/MB. The offer is in partnership with renowned US Telecom Company, AT&T, and Etisalat UAE, amongst others.

On the UAE ‘Super 50 Offer’ roaming package in partnership with Etisalat UAE, customers enjoy discounted rates for voice calls at N50 within UAE and calls back to Nigeria, SMS at N25 per SMS, and data at N25 per MB. Customers also benefit from free 100 minutes per month to receive calls on attaining a recharge threshold of N5000.

The ‘Euro Afrique Offer’ is available in 44 top European and African destinations. It offers customers the opportunity to make local calls within these destinationsat N100 per minute and calls back to Nigeria at the same price. The offer is currently available in partnership with carriers like Vodafone, Orange, Vodacom, and Airtel Networks in Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Sweden and The Netherlands. Nigerians travelling to African countries including Egypt, Congo DR, Botswana, Morocco, Mozambique, Ivory Coast and South Africa, will also enjoy the offer.

To enjoy 15GB of data in Nigeria or 200MB while roaming in these destinations, all you need do is dial the activation code *4184*1# at the cost of N5,000 with 30 days’ validity.

Commenting on the roaming offers, Acting Director, Marketing, 9mobile, ‘Layi Onafowokan, said they aligned with 9mobile’s unwavering commitment to boost superior customer experience by enabling subscribers to stay connected with family, friends, and business partners while in US, UAE, Europe, and Africa on very affordable rates.

He said: “We know that customers can be genuinely concerned about voice and data tariffs outside the country and as a result, many Nigerians refrain from roaming their lines while abroad. However, these packages always deliver superior roaming experience without having to worry about excessive bills or spend.”

Indeed, 9mobile customers embarking on foreign trips to the selected 46 countries during this holiday period and beyond need not worry. Their ever-reliable and caringnetwork has got their back. Staying in touch with folks back home in Nigeria will be a piece of cake.



Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.