mobile roaming outside europe analyses switzerland 2019

Horrendous Prices for Global Mobile Roaming

Telecom expert Ralf Beyeler from moneyland.ch analyzed charges for data roaming in 183 countries outside of western Europe. The results show that some Swiss telecom service providers are so expensive that mobile users would be better off leaving their smartphones at home or using local SIM cards.

The smartphone has established itself in the everyday lives of most Swiss. Apps like Google Maps, Uber, WhatsApp and Facebook are also widely used by Swiss mobile users while traveling for navigation or making restaurant reservations.

Having analyzed the costs of roaming in western Europe in June 2019, moneyland.ch has followed up its data roaming analysis with a study of data roaming charges for 183 countries outside of western Europe.

For the study, telecom expert Ralf Beyeler used the moneyland.ch mobile plan comparison to find the cost of 1 gigabyte of data roaming in 183 different countries using Swiss mobile services. The analysis accounted for all countries except for Andorra, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, the Vatican and all EU countries.

For the calculation, Beyeler used the most affordable 1-gigabyte data roaming offer from each mobile service provider. Both standard rates and optional data roaming bundles are accounted for. The analysis does not account for data roaming allowances which are included in mobile plans. If you are interested in comparing these and all other cost-relevant factors, you can do so using the interactive mobile plan comparison on moneyland.ch.

Beware of cost pitfalls

Travelers to destinations outside of Europe are far more prone to high charges for mobile Internet use. The biggest mistake you can make is to simply continue using mobile data while on vacation without purchasing a data roaming bundle. Making this mistake when traveling outside of western Europe can result in serious issues. Just a few minutes of using the Internet this way can result in your SIM being frozen and a bill in excess of 100 Swiss francs (depending on your service provider and custom settings). Salt, Sunrise and Yallo customers must be particularly wary of cost pitfalls. Users of Swisscom, M-Budget, Coop Mobile and Wingo plans, on the other hand, benefit from protection from high, unexpected roaming charges.

The most affordable country and service provider combinations

1 gigabyte of data roaming in Canada and the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) costs 10 francs with a TalkTalk data roaming bundle. The same amount of data roaming in France – including the overseas departments of French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion – cost 14 francs with Mucho. 1 gigabyte of roaming data for Greenland and Puerto Rico costs 14.90 francs with Sunrise. Swiss data roaming service provider Qynamic charges 15 francs for 1 gigabyte of data roaming in 25 different countries including Albania, Australia, Indonesia, Macedonia, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa and Thailand.

The most affordable service providers for the most expensive roaming destinations

The most affordable offer for 1 gigabyte of data roaming in the most expensive countries is 199.95 francs. That is the lowest price from a Swiss service provider for data roaming in 22 countries including Cuba, the Maldives and Namibia. This offer from Salt is only available to Salt prepaid users. The ok.- mobile service from retailer Valora is the most expensive: 1 gigabyte of roaming data would hypothetically cost 45,000 francs. This price is hypothetical because roaming functionality would be frozen before this charge could be accumulated. That high cost from ok.- mobile applies to almost all of the countries included in the analysis.

Swisscom, Qynamic and Salt are cheapest

Swisscom has the lowest charges for 1 gigabyte of data roaming in 85 of the 183 analyzed countries. Qynamic is the cheapest for 51 countries and Salt is the cheapest for 33 countries. ok.- mobile is the most expensive data roaming service for all 183 countries covered by the analysis.

Where can you use 1 gigabyte for less than 100 francs

moneyland.ch wanted to find out how many countries you can use data roaming in for less than 100 francs per gigabyte. Swisscom wins in this regard, with 147 countries. It is followed by M-Budget (prepaid) and Wingo with 145 countries each and Salt (plans) with 141 countries. Qynamic took fifth place with 72 countries. Switzerland’s second largest telecom service provider Sunrise offers 1 gigabyte of data roaming for less than 100 francs in 49 countries. UPC (with 6 countries) and Lebara, Salt (prepaid), TalkTalk and Yallo (5 countries each) took the end of the list.

Countries with the lowest average pricing

moneyland.ch calculated the arithmetic average prices of the most affordable offers from all service providers for 1 gigabyte of data roaming for all non-European countries. The results show that the average price of 1 gigabyte of roaming data is lowest in Turkey, at 1695 francs. The United States and Canada are notably more expensive at 2771 francs, as is Russia at 2807 francs. Greenland takes fifth place at 2964 francs.

The most affordable service provider based on average pricing

moneyland.ch also analyzed the arithmetic average price per service provider for countries in which Aldi Suisse Mobile, Coop Mobile, Lebara, M-Budget, ok.- mobile, Salt, Swisscom, TalkTalk, UPC, Wingo and Yallo offer data roaming. This affects 159 countries. The results: Swisscom has the lowest average pricing, at 66 francs per 1 gigabyte of data roaming. M-Budget prepaid users pay an average of 81 francs. Wingo, Swisscom’s budget service, takes 3rd place at 83 francs. M-Budget mobile plans take 4th place at 119 francs and Coop Mobile takes 5th place at 141 francs. All of these services run on the Swisscom network.

Salt mobile plans take sixth place at 145 francs on average and Salt prepaid offers take seventh place at 194 francs. All other service providers charge thousands of francs for 1 gigabyte of data roaming. For example, Sunrise has an average price 7196 francs per gigabyte (9th place), Yallo mobile plans have an average price of 12,386 francs per gigabyte (13th place) and Aldi has an average price of 13,296 francs per gigabyte (14th place).

Data roaming with Swisscom

Market leader Swisscom is the most affordable data roaming service for the most countries. It is the cheapest service for 85 countries and comes in second place for another 49 countries and third place for 2 countries. That makes it one of the top 3 most affordable data roaming services for 136 countries.

Swisscom customers benefit from affordable data roaming charges when traveling in many countries. In 147 countries on all continents, 1 gigabyte of data roaming costs less than 60 francs. In another 15 countries, a gigabyte of data costs 298 francs. However, Swisscom is not affordable for data roaming in 11 countries (including Cuba and Namibia) at 9900 francs per gigabyte.

“Mobile users may be surprised to find out that Swisscom is the most affordable service provider for mobile roaming in far-away countries because Swisscom has the reputation of being expensive,” states telecom expert Ralf Beyeler. “Swisscom regularly lowers its roaming prices to avoid possible political regulations,” believes Beyeler.

Data roaming with Sunrise

Sunrise charges less than 100 francs per gigabyte of data roaming – typically 79.80 francs – in 50 countries. In another 31 countries, including popular travel destination New Zealand, Sunrise users pay between 100 and 200 francs per gigabyte of data. In another 90 countries, Sunrise charges between 3000 and 15,600 francs per gigabyte, which is completely unaffordable.

 “It is difficult to understand why Sunrise charges so much for data roaming. It is even harder to understand why Sunrise only offers optional data roaming bundles for every second country,” states Ralf Beyeler.

Data roaming with Salt

1 gigabyte of data roaming in Turkey, the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) and Canada cost 19.95 francs. In all other countries, Salt charges its mobile plan users either 99.95 or 399.90 francs per gigabyte, depending on the country. Salt prepaid users pay 199.95 francs per gigabyte in all other countries. That results in the surprising fact that Salt prepaid user pay half as much as Salt plan users for data roaming in countries like Cuba and Namibia.

Data roaming with UPC

Data roaming with UPC outside of western Europe is only affordable in the French overseas departments of French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion and Saint Barthélemy. In these destinations, customers pay 60 francs per gigabyte of data roaming.

In all other countries, UPC charges would hypothetically add up to 10,000 francs per gigabyte. There are 3 countries in which data roaming with UPC is not possible.

“For UPC, international ends at the EU and EFTA’s borders. It is a pity that UPC charges ridiculous prices for data roaming outside of these regions. UPC would do its customers a favor by lowering its roaming prices for popular vacation destinations like Kosovo, the Unites States, Thailand and Australia to make them affordable,” says Ralf Beyeler.

Data roaming with Wingo

Swisscom’s fight to maintain a strong customer base led it to hit the market head on with its budget brand Wingo. But when it comes to roaming, the budget service can only partially keep up. For data roaming in 58 countries, the cost is identical to Swisscom’s. In another 102 countries, 1 gigabyte of data roaming costs 10,50 or even 97 francs more than Swisscom.  

Data roaming is affordable in 146 countries, at 70 francs per 1 gigabyte. Wingo is among the most affordable service provider in many cases. Wingo is among the 3 most affordable service providers for data roaming in 135 countries, but it does not take first place for any country.

Data roaming with M-Budget

Swisscom, in a joint venture with Migros, offers mobile plans and prepaid offers under the M-Budget brand. M-Budget has different data roaming bundles for mobile plan and prepaid users. The following evaluation only accounts for mobile plans.  

In 58 countries, M-Budget customers pay less than 30 francs for 1 gigabyte of data roaming. In another 87 countries, M-budget charges 129 francs for 1 gigabyte of data roaming. In another 16 countries, user pay 399 francs per gigabyte. As with Wingo, there are 21 countries in which data roaming is not possible. These are countries for which Swisscom has extremely high roaming charges.

Data roaming with M-Budget is significantly more expensive than data roaming with plan serviced directly by Swisscom. 1 gigabyte of data roaming in Australia costs 29.80 francs compared to 19.90 at Swisscom – around 10 francs more. M-Budget is more than twice as expensive for data roaming in Costa Rica and many other countries, where you pay 129 francs per gigabyte compared to 59.90 francs with Swisscom.

Data roaming with Coop Mobile

In 58 countries, 1 gigabyte of data roaming with Coop Mobile costs 60 francs. In another 84 countries, a gigabyte of data roaming costs 140 francs and in 20 other countries it costs 380 francs. Data roaming is blocked for 21 countries.

A price comparison with Swisscom shows that Coop Mobile is significantly more expensive, even though Coop Mobile is powered by Swisscom. The rule of thumb: Data roaming service which cost 20 francs with Swisscom cost 60 francs or 3 times as much with Coop Mobile. If Swisscom charges 60 francs, Coop charges 140 francs. If Swisscom charges 298 francs, Coop Mobile charges 380 francs.

There are even bigger differences in costs for roaming in some countries. Using data roaming in the U.S. Virgin Islands, for example, costs 380 francs per gigabyte with Coop Mobile – more than 19 times what it costs with Swisscom (19.90 francs).

For the sake of fairness, it is important to mention that Coop Mobile data roaming bundles do not expire after 30 days like Swisscom’s do. Unused data roaming allowances are rolled over indefinitely for later use. That is a customer-friendly approach, but it hardly justifies the price markups.

Data roaming with Yallo

The budget Sunrise brand Yallo has drawn attention in recent months with its promotional offers which knock up to 60 percent off standard prices. Yallo uses different rates for plan and prepaid users. The following evaluation is based on prices for Yallo plan users.

In Greenland, Canada, Russia, Turkey and the United States, Yallo offers 1 gigabyte of roaming data for 20 francs. In another 23 countries, including popular travel destinations Albania, Australia, Macedonia, Thailand and South Africa, 1 gigabyte of data costs 300 francs. The cost of roaming in the remaining 154 countries is prohibitive, at a hypothetical price of 15,000 Swiss francs per gigabyte of roaming data.

Data roaming with Aldi Suisse Mobile

Sunrise and German discounter Aldi jointly offer this prepaid service. Users are better off forfeiting data roaming altogether when traveling outside of Europe. Data roaming is only affordable in Greenland, Réunion, Russia, Turkey and the United State (including Alaska and Hawaii). In these countries, 1 gigabyte of data roaming costs less than 20 francs. In all other countries, 1 gigabyte of data costs either 3000 francs or 15,000 francs.

Use the roaming calculator to find the cheapest solution before you travel

The practical roaming calculator on moneyland.ch makes it easy to find out which roaming solution you should add to your mobile plan or prepaid service before you travel. The comprehensive and unbiased mobile plan comparison lets you find out how much you pay for roaming using your mobile plan. The comparison can account for the cost of roaming in up to 4 separate countries.

More on this topic:
Interactive mobile plan comparison
Swiss mobile roaming calculator

About moneyland.ch

moneyland.ch is Switzerland’s independent online comparison service covering banking, insurance and telecom. More than 80 unbiased comparison tools and calculators are available on moneyland.ch, along with useful financial guides and timely news. The comprehensive comparison tools help you to find the right insurance policies, bank accounts, credit and prepaid cards, loans, mortgages, trading accounts and telecom products for your needs.