READERS’ RESPONSES – ISSUE 299: AFRICAN ROAMING MOBILE CHARGES
HIGH ROAMING CHARGES ON AREEBA
I have had the experience of prepaid roaming on a GSM network when I used Areeba Ghana's prepaid roaming service in 2004. By the way, Areeba, then known as Spacefon, pioneered prepaid roaming in the west African sub-region.
Signing-up for the service cost me the cedi equivalent of US$30 and I had to purchase call credit worth US$40. In my opinion the charges by the GSM operators for roaming are rather exorbitant.
While roaming on Areeba, I had to pay US$1 per minute for making calls and US$0.50 per minute for receiving calls! Forwarding calls whilst roaming on Areeba cost US$2 each time the call forwarding is activated, and one does not receive text messages on the number to which calls are forwarded. Areeba's Pay Monthly (post-paid) roaming service is even more bizarre. A subscriber has to deposit a massive US$1,500 before being able to roam with his/her mobile phone number!
I recently had a debate with a staff of Areeba, about this very issue and she tried to make her point based on the fact that the US$1,500 is justifiable. Why? Some unscrupulous individuals had in the past ran-up a high bill on Areeba's post-paid roaming service and then disappeared into thin air. Well, I also made my point to her, a subscriber should be allowed to deposit the amount of money he/she wants to, and simply cut the subscriber off, after the deposit has been exhausted. US$1,500 is capital for business. Leaving it with a cellco is simply out, for me.
It has always been because of the high deposit on Areeba's post-paid roaming that I have kept away from their Pay-Monthly package. One can only hope that they would do something about this.
STICK TO BUYING LOCAL SIM CARDS?
I believe roaming charges are ridiculously high everywhere, not only in Africa. I am very annoyed whenever I travel anywhere WITHIN Europe.
Also, I did acknowledge that "Last week the European Commission announced that it will force mobile companies to lower their excessively high international roaming charges and scrap all roaming charges for receiving calls abroad." But this is simply not going to happen, I believe. The European Commission does not have the power to do this.
So what is the solution ? I guess for Africa, we should all do as the Africans do. Buy a local SIM card for everycountry you travel to, and use short messaging (SMS).
East African Home Pages KG
CORRECTION: Last week’s story in issue 299 headlined “SNO launches residential WiMAX broadband offering” was an April Fool’s spoof story from Myadsl.com. Yes, we were taken in but it was one of those stories that had the ring of truth about it.