The term roaming denotes the practice of using a third-party mobile service provider to access services from your mobile service provider. In the strict sense of the term this may include national roaming – connecting to your service provider through a third-party service provider in a region of the same country which is not covered by your service provider’s network. However, the term is most commonly used in relation to connecting to foreign networks while traveling outside of your country of residence.

This is often the case during vacations or business travel. Communicating through local area networks such as WLAN connections, on the other hand, is not considered roaming.

Thanks to roaming, mobile phone users can continue to make and receive phone calls (call roaming) and SMS messages or connect to the Internet (data roaming) using their main phone number. There is no need to use a swap your SIM card for local SIM cards when traveling.

Telecom service providers normally charge much higher fees for roaming than those charged for local use. Depending on your service provider and the country in which you use roaming, rates can be extremely high. These charges are added to your phone bill if you use a mobile plan, or deducted from your prepaid credit if you use a prepaid offer.

In addition to smartphones, customers can also use other devices which are capable of connecting to mobile networks while traveling abroad. Such devices may include tablets, laptops, computers, smartwatches, hotspots and some e-book readers.

Roaming services from Swiss mobile service providers

Telecom service providers in European Union (EU) member countries are no longer allowed to charge roaming fees when their customers use roaming in other EU member countries. As Switzerland is not an EU member country, it has not adopted this regulation and Swiss mobile service providers are allowed to charge their customers roaming fees when they use their SIM cards outside of Switzerland. The Principality of Liechtenstein is an exception to this rule: Swisscom and Salt customers can use their mobile phones in Liechtenstein without paying any roaming fees.

Customers of Swiss mobile service providers can make use of roaming in almost all countries around the world. Because phone users make use of foreign mobile networks when accessing roaming services, network coverage is a deciding factor. In many countries, network coverage in sparsely-populated regions is poor or non-existent. Because Swiss service providers allow you to connect to multiple networks in the same country, you are free to connect to the network which provides the best coverage in the region you are traveling in.

Foreign mobile service providers often use different radio frequencies than Swiss networks. Many mobile phones – particularly budget devices – only support the most widely-used frequencies. Because of this it is possible that you may not be able to connect to a foreign mobile network simply because your phone does not support the network’s frequency.

Roaming can be expensive. This is especially true when standard rates are used. Swiss mobile service providers offer optional roaming options and data roaming bundles which can significantly reduce the cost of roaming. Some Swiss mobile plans include roaming entitlements which allow you to use roaming in specific countries on a complimentary basis within the limits of the allowances provided.

However, even with optional roaming options, roaming in certain countries can still be expensive. It is important to compare these offers because they do not pay off in every case. The data roaming calculator shows you the standard fees or the cost of data roaming bundles for a destination country of your choice. The Interactive mobile roaming wizard on makes it easy to find the exact costs of each individual offer based on your specific roaming needs. Roaming costs are also accounted for in the interactive mobile plan comparison.

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Expert Ralf Beyeler
Ralf Beyeler is the telecom expert at and also covers other areas of personal finance.