Jan Henckens (@Jannemans) asked me to share some info on voice and data roaming. I’m not an expert on voice roaming. I just know it’s important to use ‘partner’ networks of your domestic operator to avoid outrageous charges. This post will be limited to advice on data roaming.
Belgium has three major operators: Proximus, Mobistar and Base. All three of them offer data roaming packages. Similar to voice roaming, it’s important to use partner networks of your domestic operator when you’re abroad.
Proximus offers a Vodafone Mobile Internet subscription which covers 34 countries at a cost of 20 euro/month for 50MB or 75 euro for 500MB. If you want data roaming coverage for almost every country in the World, you pay 95 euro for 150MB. Note: There’s a list of all countries covered by the ‘Mobile Internet World’ subscription on the Proximus website, but no indication on which networks to use in each country.
Mobistar offers a 50mb subscription at 20 euro/month for use in the European Union, Switzerland, the US and China or 95 euro for 500MB. If you want roaming internet Everywhere in the World, Mobistar charges 95 euro for a 100MB monthly subscription. There’s no indication on the Mobistar website which countries are covered nor which local networks to use.
Base makes a distinction between ‘ Challenger’ and ‘Advantage’ networks. Challenger networks are limited to 11 countries. Advantage networks (which include the Challerger networks) cover 64 countries. The Base website offers a PDF with a clear overview of all countries covered and which partner networks to use. Base offers a 10 MB monthly subscription at 4.13 euro for Challenger networks and 8.26 euro for Advantage networks. 500MB on Challenger networks cost 41.32 euro and 74.31 euro on Advantage networks.
At the time I signed up for my data roaming package (more than 1 year ago) Base (part of the KPN group) was the only mobile network provider with data roaming packages for countries outside Europe. Today, I noticed both Mobistar and Proximus are now also offering data roaming packages covering many countries outside Europe. With 500MB at 74.31 euro/month (90 euro incl VAT) for 64 countries, the BASE Advantage subscription still looks the best choice for frequent travelers with high data usage.
Of course, there’s the much cheaper solution of using local sim cards for mobile internet and voice calls. Only disadvantage is the hassle of buying those sim cards, keeping them topped up and the need to use two cellphones to remain available on your regular number. Here’s an overview per country of ‘pay as you go’ sim cards with data. (via @Jannemans)
Note: All prices mentioned in this blog post are without VAT.