Posted on August 04, 2016

The Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) has observed an increase in inquiries and complaints about issues related to the use of data roaming services. CRA would like to create awareness among consumers in Qatar to better understand their rights and obligations when using communications services during their overseas travel.

If you are traveling to any of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, you can benefit from a new regulation on reduced roaming charges within GCC. The regulation, effective since April 1, 2016, is a result of coordination efforts between GCC telecommunication agencies and providers for reduced roaming rates for voice calls, outgoing SMS & data services within the member states. These reduced roaming rates are reflected in the packages offered by the two service providers in Qatar. However, all consumers of communications services, should stay informed of the following guidelines related to roaming services and manage their roaming charges more efficiently.

Availability of Roaming Packages: Both Ooredoo and Vodafone have special packages and products related to use of roaming services outside Qatar. As an informed consumer, ensure to check with your service provider about such products and packages and understand all related terms and conditions. Carefully select the most appropriate plan according to your requirements.

Monitor Your Data Usage: Be aware of your roaming package, and continually monitor your balance to avoid roaming bill shocks. Your service provider is obliged to provide you notifications before your package ends or is consumed. Take advantage of such alerts and manage your roaming costs responsibility.

Understand Activation / Termination Process Beforehand: It’s ideal to understand all processes related to activation before you travel to avoid any additional charges. Ensure to call your service provider beforehand or visit their website to read available information. Note down any contact number or customer service number that you need to activate your package. Where possible, activate the package before you travel so that you don’t incur any unnecessary roaming charges at your destination.

Ensure Using the Correct Network: Many complaints received by CRA are a result of the use of wrong network in the destination country. Please be aware of the correct networks that your service provider has partnered with in your visiting country. Ideally, turn your network selection to manual mode in settings of your mobile device to ensure that the strong non-partnering network doesn’t get selected automatically.

Use of Data Roaming: Turn off data roaming when traveling to avoid charges when accessing apps, web, email, or using iMessages, MMS and other data services. Switching off data roaming should not affect making voice calls or sending SMS.

Using Mobile Services Offered by Airlines: Several airlines offer online connectivity and Wi-Fi networks. If you plan to use such services, ensure you understand the terms and condition, and any associated price plans beforehand.

No Plans to Use Roaming Data? If you are not planning to use roaming data while traveling switch off data roaming on your device. If you are not sure how to turn off roaming services, contact your service provider for assistance.

Options to Stay Connected: If you want to stay connected without using international data roaming, you could use free Wi-Fi networks available in hotels, public areas or restaurants abroad, after switching data roaming off. You may also use local pre-paid SIM cards at your destination. If using these alternatives, please ensure you are aware of related terms and conditions and keep your personal data safe.