International data roaming - Options and Advice

Modified on Mon, 08 Apr 2024 at 03:07 PM

You have a two main options when it comes to IoT data roaming: 

1) Global Data Roaming SIMs

2) Roaming on local SIMs (Managed Private APN or Prepaid)

The best solution depends on your requirements in terms of data usage, support levels and specific countries you are deploying to. 


a) BICS global data roaming SIM

- Global coverage

- Un-steered SIM (attaches to strongest network) 

- SIM-level spend control using SIMcontrol (no billing surprises)

- Competitive Africa-specific roaming rates
- Multi-IMSI (device needs to support IMSI swapping)

b) Vodafone IoT (GDSP) global data roaming SIM

- Global coverage

- Steered SIM (will attach to Vodafone partner networks first)

- SIM-level spend control using SIMcontrol (no billing surprises)
- Single IMSI (works well with devices that don't manage IMSI swapping)

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


a) SIMs managed on the SIMcontrol Managed Private APN:

Our Managed APN SIMs offer reliable roaming options across many international destinations.

This roaming solution is based on Business Flexi SIMs (on MTN or Vodacom) that are managed on our Managed APN. These SIMs can be monitored on SIM level in near real-time, and data usage capped even while roaming. This also allows for session-level insight which improves our support capabilities. Contact us to discuss options in more detail.

[Note: On standard non-APN contract (post-billed) SIMs the data roaming cost is only reconciled and billed after month-end. This can lead to uncontrolled costs and bill-shock. We do not suggest this as a scalable roaming option.]

b) Prepaid or Business Flexi 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, so there can be no billing surprises. SIMcontrol monitors your airtime balances on a daily basis.


Vodacom or MTN?
Roaming costs are set by the networks - so check roaming costs per country before deploying. Which network's 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 SIMcontrol also offers local SIM management in the following countries, which might remove the need to use roaming: South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique. 

Prepaid roaming on Vodacom or MTN 

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. 

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 reliable 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 and quality of service 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. All roaming services are offered on a "best effort" basis by the telecoms partners. 

Prepaid & Managed APN Roaming Data Pricing:




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

Roaming from Namibia using a MTC SIM: 

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



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