How does international data roaming work? What are the risks?

Modified on Fri, 11 Nov 2022 at 03:58 PM

You have a few options when it comes to data roaming: 

1) Global Data Roaming SIMs

2) Roaming on local SIMs (prepaid or APN)

The best solution depends on your requirements, data usage and specific countries you are deploying to. 


We offer two global data roaming solutions: 

a) BICS global data roaming SIM

- Global coverage

- Made for M2M/IoT deployments (only connects to data-enabled local networks)

- SIM-level spend control using SIMcontrol

- Competitive Africa-specific roaming rates
- Multi-IMSI

b) Vodafone GDSP global data roaming SIM

- Global coverage

- Made for M2M/IoT deployments

- SIM-level spend control using SIMcontrol
- Single IMSI

Contact us to discuss specific requirements and country data rates.
View global roaming options and download a detailed product brochure here. 


Prepaid SIMs:

Data roaming on prepaid SIMs is possible to specific countries, depending on which network's SIM you use. Data roaming is typically provisioned on request, and is only enabled by loading standard airtime (not data bundles).  Data roaming is billed against the standard airtime on the SIM. You can still monitor your airtime spend on a daily basis. 

Be aware that roaming costs are set by the networks, and can be excessively high - so check roaming costs before deploying. Which network SIM to use often depends on which countries you will be roaming in. Please contact us if you would like to use your SIM’s for roaming, and we can assist with selecting the best option. Note that Flickswitch can also offer local SIM management in the following countries, which might remove the need to use roaming: South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Lesotho (soon), Botswana (soon).  

From South Africa (Using prepaid MTN or Vodacom SIMs) 

Local prepaid SIM cards can data roam once provisioned. Data roaming is billed against the normal airtime balance on the SIM - data bundles will not work for roaming data. See links below for costs per country. Roaming rates depend on which network the SIM attaches to in that country. A minimum amount of airtime will be "reserved" when a roaming session is opened. This can be as high as R100, so please keep a large enough minimum airtime balance on the SIM. Some networks offer a "SMS-only" roaming option. If you enable this, you will not be able to data roam. 

Note: We often get reports of technical issues with roaming in some countries, specifically Swaziland, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Quality of service can vary between countries. Do not expect constant connectivity. Try and select a network where there is a local "sister" network, i.e. Vodacom SA SIM for roaming on Vodacom Mozambique or MTN SA SIM for roaming on MTN Nigeria. That should give you better rates in those countries. 

MTN prepaid SIMs are automatically provisioned for roaming.

Vodacom prepaid SIMs can be provisioned for roaming directly on the SIMcontrol platform: 

An important note on Vodacom/MTN data roaming: We find in practice that data roaming between African countries is not as reliable as local connectivity. So-called "global" consumer SIMs are also no guarantee of a good quality of service unless they are specialist SIMs geared for African roaming with remote network management. You may also find that a SIM attaches to a local network that only supports voice roaming (not data roaming), which leads the device to be offline and with no data connectivity until it connects to a different network. We can not guarantee any roaming service 100% and can also not provide support on what happens on local networks while roaming. Always trial SIMs in a specific country before deploying operationally. 

Contract SIMs (managed on the Flickswitch APN):

On standard contract (post-billed) SIMs the roaming cost is only reconciled and billed after month-end. This can lead to uncontrolled costs and bill-shock. 

Contract SIMs (on Vodacom or MTN) that are managed on our Flickswitch APN can be monitored on SIM level in near real-time, and data usage capped even while roaming.  Contact us to discuss options in more detail.  

Prepaid Roaming Data Pricing:




Roaming from Namibia using a MTC SIM: 

There are no roaming options as MTC Namibia SIMs can not data roam.

Roaming from Kenya using a Airtel Kenya SIM

Local Airtel Kenya SIMs offers  the following roaming options -

"One Airtel" - Roaming on other Airtel networks only

1. Weekly combo (10mins+50MB) bundle @ Ksh450/=

2. Biweekly combo (20mins+200MB) bundle @ Ksh1000/=

3. Monthly combo (50mins+500MB) bundle @ Ksh2000/=

One Airtel Bundle Countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo B, Congo Dr, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, NigerNigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia

Global Airtel bundles:

1. Weekly global (10mins+10sms+50MB) bundle @ Ksh800/=

2. Monthly global (50 mins+50sms+ 500MB) bundle @ Ksh6000/=

Global Airtel Bundle Countries:

  1. East & South. Africa : South Africa ;Zambia; Malawi ; Seychelles; Tanzania; Uganda; Rwanda; Madagascar ;Mozambique

  2. West & Central. Africa :Congo DR; Congo B; Chad; Gabon; Niger; Nigeria; Ghana ;Zambia;

  3. America :USA ;

  4. Asia :UAE ; India ;Saudi Arabia

  5. Europe:, UK ;Germany;France;Netherlands;Italy;Turkey ;Switzerland;Spain

CONTACT US FOR SPECIFIC ROAMING REQUIREMENTS. We also offer specialist African Roaming M2M/IoT SIMs with advanced features for reliable data roaming.


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