Roaming nationally with Vodafone - What's New?
Roaming nationally with Vodafone
24 September 2002
Kinny Cheng & Richard Browning
Earlier this month, Vodafone announced a groundbreaking new policy. The technology itself is not groundbreaking, the service it provides isn’t groundbreaking, and neither is the convenience of it.
But one small, almost insignificant detail is what’s truly groundbreaking about this initiative. The new policy is called “National Roaming” - and to put this into practice, Vodafone have teamed up with none other than their greatest competitor,
Telstra, to provide this service in the states of Victoria and Tasmania.
It is most definitely the first time that any of the “big three” mobile telecommunications companies have joined forces in the interest of a product for the end customer.
Anyway, enough “patting on the back” for the networks! So what is National Roaming? Firstly, roaming is what occurs when a mobile phone passes out of the boundaries of the normal coverage area of a mobile network.
For instance - if you’re travelling overseas you cross the border of your network’s normal coverage area, and “International Roaming” will come into effect when you use the overseas network whilst outside of Australia (where the handset needs to be compatible with the respective carrier).
Using network services whilst roaming will incur additional costs on top of what you’re already paying, whereby - in most cases - you would have to notify your home network provider to enable this service for you (so that you understand the additional costs involved before going ahead).
Vodafone’s new National Roaming service utilises Telstra’s existing GSM mobile network infrastructure to complement Vodafone’s coverage along selected highways in Victoria and Tasmania. This service is not available to pre-paid customers though.
If you already have International Roaming set up, then you will already be equipped for National Roaming. Otherwise, you will need to contact Vodafone Customer Service to have this activated for your mobile account (1300 650 410 from a landline phone, 1555 from your Vodafone mobile).
Once you find yourself in an area where Vodafone coverage becomes zilch, and your phone succumbs to the Telstra network, the cost for calls now become a flat 90 cents per minute for consumer plans (My Choice, etc) and 70 cents per minute for business plans These call charges are inclusive of GST, and are also billed in 1-second increments.
Further charges apply (on top of the roaming costs) for value added and special services (IDD & 1900 calls, etc). Vodafone’s “1-2-3” and THRUconnect services are not available while using National Roaming.
Q&A .:. Vodafone’s National Roaming
Q .:. Anything else I have to do to get this working on my phone?
Once you have confirmed that the National Roaming feature is activated on your account, you can gain access to the Telstra network once you are outside of Vodafone’s coverage areas.
For most Vodafone users reading this, you may need to perform an extra step before being able to roam nationally. This will depend on the type of SIM card you are using in your phone.
Users with red Vodafone SIM cards - and with an “R” under the SIM card number
These newer SIM cards come preset with automatic national roaming capabilities, and will not require any user interaction to have the phone access the Telstra network when Vodafone coverage is not available. The letter “R” under the SIM card number indicates that national roaming capabilities have been set up on the actual card.
As these cards have only been recently released by Vodafone (as of the date of this article), only people who have recently signed up with Vodafone or those who had their SIM card replaced will have one of these in their phones. But this does not mean you won’t be able to access the roaming service if you don’t have one of these (see more below).
Users with other Vodafone SIM cards (older versions, MobileBank, etc)
This is for most of us - and all that needs to be done is to manually select the Telstra network from your phone’s network search function when you require it. As the older SIM cards have not been set up with the facility to automatically switch over, this is why the manual process is necessary.
For example, on a typical Nokia phone simply choose the ‘settings / phone settings / network selection’ function and select this to “manual” when you decide you need the national roaming capabilities. The phone will do a network search and will bring up a list of the available options. If “Vodafone” appears on the list, highlight it and press “SELECT”; if not, then choose “Telstra” and do the same.
Once you fall outside of Vodafone’s network coverage, the phone will show a prompt saying “Select network?” Choosing “OK” will do a network search and bring up the list.
When you feel that roaming is no longer required, change the “network selection” option back to “Automatic” (which is the default setting).
Q .:. Do I have to pay for incoming call charges whilst roaming nationally on Telstra?
No, there are no incoming call charges for roaming within Australia on the Telstra network (unalike international roaming, where you have to pay for the IDD leg of the call).
Q .:. Will I get another bill for calls made via Telstra?
Although your phone will say “Telstra”, don’t stress! You will receive no bill from Telstra - as all relevant charges will appear on your Vodafone bill.
Q .:. What happens to calls that I’m on when I jump between networks?
If you are in the middle of a call when you cross into Telstra coverage, the call will be cut off and you will need to call the person back (or wait for your phone to gain a Telstra signal and let them call you back instead).
On the other hand, if you are on a call whilst in a Telstra (Vodafone-less) coverage area, the call will continue on the Telstra network even though you’ve passed back into a Vodafone coverage area. You may stay connected to the Telstra network for up to 30 minutes after the call has ended.
Vodafone National Roaming coverage maps