Telecom News

Football World Cup 2018: Beware of Telecom Rip-Offs

May 17, 2018

Telecom expert Ralf Beyeler from independent online comparison service takes a close look at TV offers and roaming rates for the Russian Federation. This review shows that differences are huge and that comparing is key.

There is just 1 month left until the big kickoff: On June 14, 2018, the battle between 32 national football teams for the golden trophy will begin once again. The Swiss national team will play their first match on June 17. Whether you travel to Russia to watch the games live or watch broadcasts from the comfort of your home, these useful tips will help you avoid being ripped off.

Mobile roaming: Major price differences between service providers

If you are one of the lucky football fans who will travel to Russia to watch games live, make sure you understand that the fees charged by Swiss service providers for mobile roaming in Russia are extortionate. While Swiss telecom service providers now offer many mobile plans which include roaming allowances, roaming in Russia is not typically included in these allowances, and is billed separately.

Independent online comparison service calculated the costs which fans can expect to pay for mobile roaming in Russia, depending on the Swiss mobile service provider they use. The comparison assumes a total of 3 hours of roaming calls and 1 gigabyte of roaming data.

Standard roaming rates compared

 “If football fans use mobile roaming the same way that most Swiss tourists do when traveling abroad – without getting informed or looking into cost-saving options – they will fall straight into a cost trap,” explains Ralf Beyeler. Without prior steps taken, calls and data are billed at standard roaming rates.

At standard rates, Sunrise customers would pay 837 Swiss francs for 3 hours of roaming calls, while users of Swisscom’s “budget” brand Wingo would pay 799 francs. Swisscom and M-Budget are less expensive, at 529 francs. Salt customers would pay 538 francs. Yallo has the lowest standard rates in this case, with users of some of its plans – such as the Yallo Postpaid plan sold at Swiss post offices – paying just 162 francs. Holders of the Yallo plans offered online would pay 279 francs for 3 hours of roaming calls in Russia at standard rates.

“This evaluation clearly shows the major differences in the roaming rates used by different service providers. It also shows that making phone calls at standard roaming rates while visiting countries like Russia is still extremely expensive and therefore is not recommended,” says Ralf Beyeler, telecom expert at online comparison service

Roaming options: Lebara is cheapest for roaming calls

Activating a roaming option will let you make calls while in Russia at rates that are more affordable than standard rates. Switzerland’s 3 biggest mobile service providers, Swisscom, Sunrise and Salt, smaller providers like M-Budget and Lebara, and – from June 1, 2018 – Aldi and Yallo, all offer special roaming options for travelers to Russia.

The cheapest options for roaming calls in Russia are offered by Lebara and Yallo which charge 30 francs for 3 hours of roaming calls with a roaming option activated. Using the Talk World option from Salt, the same football fan would pay 101 francs. Swisscom and M-Budget are even more expensive at 201 francs and Sunrise users would pay 545 francs for 3 hours of calls. “Surprisingly, users of Sunrise’s Lebara brand would pay just 30 francs, while Sunrise plan holders would pay 18 times more,” says Ralf Beyeler.

Data roaming: Getting online in Russia compared

Like making phone calls while in Russia, using mobile data during your stay is expensive. 1 gigabyte of roaming data is cheapest at Swisscom, Aldi, Lebara and Yallo at 30 francs. M-Budget and Wingo customers pay more double that amount (75 francs per gigabyte) and Sunrise users pay 78 francs. At 200 francs, Salt is much more expensive. A gigabyte of roaming data at UPC would cost an exorbitant 10,000 francs, but fortunately the service provider switches off mobile data access when you leave the country.

Total costs range between 60 and 10,702 francs

Based on the fictive football fan and mobile roaming user in the examples above (3 hours of roaming calls and 1 gigabyte of roaming data), the differences between mobile providers are enormous. Yallo and Lebara, both of which are Sunrise brands, work out cheapest at 60 francs for 3 hours of phone calls and 1 gigabyte of data. Aldi takes third place at 132 francs, followed by Swisscom (231 francs), M-Budget (276 francs) and Salt (301 francs). Some brands which are marketed as affordable service providers are anything but cheap. For example, users of Swisscom’s budget brand Wingo would pay 874 francs in this use case – nearly 4 times more than Swisscom itself charges.

Roaming in Russia using Yallo and Aldi is still very expensive. Based on the Aldi mobile price list, users can expect to pay 16,000 francs for 3 hours of roaming calls and 1 gigabyte of roaming data. However, both Yallo and Aldi will be lowering their mobile roaming charges just ahead of the world cup. Between major Swiss retailers Migros and Coop, the winner is obvious: Roaming in Russia with CoopMobile is around 90 percent more expensive than it is using M-Budget from Migros.

UHD world cup broadcasts now offered in Switzerland

The majority of football fans in Switzerland will likely follow the world cup without leaving the country. But even long-distance fans should consider a few key points to avoid being ripped off. For example, you do not need to sign up for a costly pay-TV plan to watch the world cup matches. All matches will be broadcast live on free Swiss public television channels.

A nice plus is that this football world cup will be the first to be available to Swiss fans in ultra-high definition (UHD). UHD delivers significantly better image quality than high definition (HD). It is sometimes referred to as 4K, although UHD image resolution is actually somewhat below 4000 pixels in width.

If you enjoy watching the games at one of Switzerland’s many public viewings, you can enjoy better picture by paying attention to whether matches are displayed in UHD. If you prefer watching world cup matches at home, you can watch them in UHD quality on Swisscom TV. Sunrise has not yet disclosed whether or not it will broadcast in UHD. Switzerland’s largest cable TV operator UPC will not broadcast this world cup in UHD. Neither will web TV services like Teleboy and Zattoo.

Follow the world cup on the go for free

A number of world cup matches will take place on weekday afternoons. Luckily, streaming services like Zattoo and Teleboy make it possible to watch matches right on your phone, tablet or computer screen on the go or at your workplace (assuming your employer is ok with this and doesn’t block streaming services). Another advantage of Zattoo and Teleboy is that you can stream world cup matches free of charge.

Pay attention to the fact that streaming video requires the transfer of large amounts of data. You should count on up to 5 gigabytes of data per football match, depending on the video quality. Because of this, streaming world cup matches via mobile data is only a good idea if you use a mobile plan with unlimited data included in the flat monthly fee. Otherwise you could end up paying a lot to watch games on the go. Another problem is that the antennas used by mobile networks have a limited capacity. If too many fans in your area watch matches at the same time, the network will quickly become overloaded.

More on this topic:
Data roaming tips
Roaming call tips
Telecom comparisons
TV plan comparison
Mobile plan comparison
Mobile roaming comparison

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