Roaming Charges
Source: www.taoofindifference.com
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Whether you are travelling for business purposes or pleasure, the costs of maintaining communication ties with clients and friends are prohibitively expensive. In a bid to alleviate roaming constraints, local service providers, including Safaricom and Airtel have been slashing roaming charges in select countries. For example, an agreement called One Network was signed by East Africa’s heads of state in 2015 as a measure to reduce roaming prices. The agreement was driven by the need to improve socio-economic growth in the region.

With a substantial growth in data service adoption, it is disappointing to see service providers charge up to KES 440 per MB in UAE while partnering with Airtel World. It is even worse in China and Hong Kong where Airtel charges KES 1,847 and KES 721 per MB respectively, with China Mobile as the roaming carrier. Ideally, it is a stretch viewing a single WhatsApp story or upload a bathroom selfie/aircraft wing photo on Instagram with a lone MB of data for such amounts of money.

We have selected a few popular destinations and summarized their roaming charges in terms of data, voice and SMS for you globetrotters. The charges are applicable for pre-pay and post-pay customers.

Starting with Asia:

United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai et al.)

Safaricom (with Etisalat as the roaming partner)                                                                              

Calls made within: KES 10 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 10 per min

To other countries: KES 85 per min

To receive voice call: KES 40 per min

SMS to all destinations: KES 10 per SMS

Data: KES 14 per MB

Airtel (with Airtel World)

Calls made within: KES 110 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 110 per min

To receive a voice call: KES 110 per min

SMS: KES 29 to all destinations

Data: KES 440 per MB

China

Safaricom (with China Mobile or China Unicom)                                                                                

Calls made within: KES 10 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 35 or 50 per min

To other countries: KES 70 per min

To receive voice call: KES 5 per min

SMS to all destinations: KES 10 per SMS

Data: KES 14 per MB

Airtel (with China Mobile and China Unicom)

Calls made within: KES 86.33 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 356.10 per min

To receive a voice call: KES 85 per min

SMS: KES 36 or 41 to all destinations

Data: KES 1,847 or 924 per MB

We kid you not – that is KES 1,847 or KES 924 for an MB of data. Ouch!

Hong Kong

Safaricom (with H3G)                                                                           

Calls made within: KES 40 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 290 per min

To other countries: KES 280 per min

To receive voice call: KES 70 per min

SMS to all destinations: KES 50 per SMS

Data: KES 35 per MB

Airtel (with China Mobile)

Calls made within: KES 32.62 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 228.28 per min

To receive a voice call: KES 85 per min

SMS: KES 43 to all destinations

Data: KES 721 per MB

Korea, Republic Of

Safaricom (unspecified carrier partner)                                                                             

Calls made within: KES 70 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 225 per min

To other countries: KES 235 per min

To receive voice call: KES 40 per min

SMS to all destinations: KES 40 per SMS

Data: KES 1500 per MB

Airtel (with KT Corporation)

Calls made within: KES 90.20 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 275 per min

To receive a voice call: KES 85 per min

SMS: KES 33 to all destinations

Data: KES 1352 per MB

It is apparent that Airtel’s charges extremely high for the above Asian nations especially on the data front. Safaricom’s roaming fees are relatively reasonable except in the Korea Republic, Of where they have not specified a roaming partner.

Shifting to North America:

Canada

Safaricom (with Rogers or Telus)                                                                               

Calls made within: KES 5 or 55 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 265 or 85 per min

To other countries: KES 265 or 350 per min

To receive voice call: KES 5 per min

SMS to all destinations: KES 35 per SMS

Data: KES 250 or 14 per MB

It is a mixed case here; Telus is easy on data and calls made to Kenya while Rogers is favourable on calls made withing Canada only.

Airtel (with Bell or Rogers or Telus)

Calls made within: KES 98.18 or 146.11 or 107.53 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 248.33 or 368.45 or 271.98 per min

To receive a voice call: KES 85 per min

SMS: KES 10 to all destinations

Data: KES 946 or 1899 or 1036 per MB

There is now way about this; roaming on Airtel in Canada is a ripoff at best.

U.S.A.

Safaricom (AT&T and T-Mobile)                                                                              

Calls made within: KES 10 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 10 per min

To other countries: KES 10 per min

To receive voice call: KES 5 per min

SMS to all destinations: KES 10 per SMS

Data: KES 14 per MB

Fair, if you ask me.

Airtel (with T-Mobile and AT&T)

Calls made within: KES 110 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 110 per min

To receive a voice call: KES 110 per min

SMS: KES 29 to all destinations

Data: KES 440 per MB

 

In case you are flying to Naijaland:

Nigeria

Safaricom (with MTN)

Calls made within: KES 35 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 30 per min

To other countries: KES 85 per min

To receive voice call: KES 30 per min

SMS to all destinations: KES 20 per SMS

Data: KES 14 per MB

Airtel (With Airtel Nigeria)

Calls made within: KES 12 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 35 per min

To receive a voice call: FREE

SMS: KES 17 to all destinations

Data: KES 69 per MB

Airtel loses to Safaricom on data but has an upper hand on calls and SMS. What is more, you can receive calls for free with Airtel.

Going south:

South Africa

Safaricom (with Vodacom SA/MTN)

Calls made within: KES 15 or 35 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 15 or 30 per min

To other countries: KES 70 or 85 per min

To receive voice call: KES 18 per min

SMS to all destinations: KES 5 or 20 per SMS

Data: KES 14 per MB

Airtel (with MTN)

Calls made within: KES 110 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 110 per min

To receive a voice call: KES 110 per min

SMS: KES 29 to all destinations

Data: KES 440 per MB

Again, Safaricom is the better option here.

Closer to home:

South Sudan

Safaricom (with MTN)

Calls made within: KES 10 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 10 per min

To other countries: KES 120 per min

To receive voice call: FREE

SMS to all destinations: KES 5 per SMS

Data: KES 35 per MB

Airtel (with MTN South Sudan)

Calls made within: KES 10 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 10 per min

To receive a voice call: FREE

SMS: KES 6 to all destinations

Data: KES 249 per MB

Travelers can receive calls for free for the two carriers.

Tanzania

Safaricom (with Vodacom)

Calls made within: KES 55 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 55 per min

To other countries: KES 55 per min

To receive voice call: KES 25 per min

SMS to all destinations: KES 5 per SMS

Data: KES 14 per MB

Airtel (with Airtel Tz)

Calls made within: KES 12 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 35 per min

To receive a voice call: FREE

SMS: KES 17 to all destinations

Data: KES 69 per MB

Uganda

Safaricom (with MTN/ Vodafone)

Calls made within: KES 10 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 10 per min

To other countries: KES 85 per min

To receive voice call: FREE

SMS to all destinations: KES 7 per SMS

Data: KES 12 per MB

Airtel (with Airtel Uganda/MTN)

Calls made within: KES 9 per min

Calls to Kenya: KES 9 per min

To receive a voice call: FREE

SMS: KES 6 to all destinations

Data: KES 10 per MB

Clearly, the above charges are far from what you would call pocket-friendly, and service providers know it. In Europe, for example, there is a plan to get rid of roaming charges starting from 15 June. European subscribers stand to benefit from this move because they do not have to spend a fortune to foot roaming fees. It will be terrific to see the same move take root in other continents and the entire world.

Meanwhile, you should probably use app-based voice calls (Telegram, WhatsApp and Duo can make voice calls via internet) and chat applications while connected to Wi-Fi rather than spend an arm and a leg when abroad.

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