Roaming with Global Riiing
new and better value way to stay in contact internationally
and with more features than most other options.
7 of an 10 part series - click for Parts
airtime rates continue to drop, except when you're traveling
internationally. The wireless companies will eagerly
charge you an arm and a leg when you take your phone and use it
in a foreign country.
more than three years we've been writing these articles, we've
seen a series of lower and lower priced international cell phone
products come (and sometimes, go, too), but each usually had one
(or more) disadvantages. Now (April 05) we have found
what, for most people, is the cheapest - and best - service of
all. Global Riiing - such a good value that you can almost
excuse its silly name.
One phone number for all your
We would all love to have a
single phone number to use wherever in the world we're
traveling. Unfortunately, there are three barriers to
achieving this :
Roaming Agreements :
Not all phone services have comprehensive international
roaming agreements, and many pre-paid phone services don't
allow international roaming at all
Cost : When you
roam internationally, costs can go way high
Only GSM phones can roam around most of the world, and in
the US, T-mobile and Cingular (including AT&T) are the only
two major carriers with GSM technology
The Global Riiing service
solves the first two of these problems.
Technology for Global Roaming
requirements for global roaming - ie the type of
phone you'll need - are discussed in parts
summary, you need a GSM type cell phone. If you don't
already have a GSM phone as part of your US wireless service,
you can easily buy an unlocked GSM phone (ie one which can be
used with any/all GSM services, everywhere in the world) from
companies such as market leader,
if you have a GSM phone that was provided by AT&T, Cingular or
T-mobile, but it is locked, our
unlocking services can probably unlock it for you.
Note that when you get a GSM
phone, you need to be certain that it supports the
bands used in the countries you plan to visit.
What Global Riiing does for
When you plug the Global
Riiing SIM into your GSM cell phone, the phone takes on a phone
number from Liechtenstein.
People can call you at this
number, no matter where in the world they are, just so long as
you are in one of the 100 different countries in which Riiing has coverage.
Incoming calls are free in
64 countries, including most of Europe plus other countries as
diverse as Albania, Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Brazil, Egypt, Israel, Nigeria
and South Africa.
Incoming calls, for the
other 36 countries, range in price from €0.19/minute (add about
30% to get US$, ie €0.19 = $0.25) up to €0.99 (for only seven of
the 36 countries).
And you in turn can dial to
any person, anywhere in the world, from your phone.
Outgoing calls range in price from a low of €0.39 a minute (for
most countries) up to a high of €1.89 (for only 2 countries), or
sometimes a bit more if calling to a cellphone in a country that
charges callers extra to reach cell phone numbers.
A €0.25 fee applies to start
an outgoing call in addition to the applicable rate per minute.
Placing outgoing calls is
very simple. You simply dial the number you want to call,
including the country and area code.
Added Value Services
In addition to placing and
receiving calls, you can send and receive SMS. Incoming
messages are free, and outgoing ones are €0.49 each.
You also have full voicemail
support, so you can safely turn your phone off at night and not
be troubled by people calling you and getting the time zone
Voicemail is a bargain.
Unlike many other SIM products, you don't pay anything for the
time it takes people to record a message for you. You only
pay for the time it takes you to listen to your messages.
Voicemail rates range in price from a low of €0.39 a minute (for
most countries) up to a high of €1.79 (for only 2 countries).
One of the nice features of
the Global Riing is that if you're in an area of bad service in
a country, you can usually get your phone to switch to a better
signal from a different wireless provider, because in most
countries, Riiing has roaming agreements with more than one
Other cost related issues
The Global Riiing SIM costs
purchase from Telestial, their main US agent. Included
in the $69 is €15 (about US$20) worth of free airtime, so the
actual net cost of the SIM by itself is only $49.
Extra airtime can be
purchased in multiples of €25, either through Telestial or
directly from the Riiing service.
To keep your SIM valid, you
need to buy some airtime once every nine months, otherwise your
number will expire and you'll need to buy a new SIM next time.
Cost-wise, it is a bit of a wash between paying to extend the
life of your present SIM or simply letting it expire, then
buying a complete new SIM next time you plan to travel
If you travel frequently,
best to keep the SIM current, so you don't have the hassle of
changing phone numbers each time you travel, but if you travel
only seldom, perhaps just buy one as needed and let it expire
(or give/sell to a traveling friend when you're done with it).
Global Riiing compared to other
global roaming cell phone services
There are now five main
alternatives for you to choose from when traveling overseas.
(a) International roaming with
your US GSM service
This is the most expensive
option, but is also the simplest and easiest - but only if
you already have GSM service in the US (ie, mainly AT&T,
Cingular, or T-mobile).
Note that you'll probably
need to tell your US wireless service that you want them to
enable global roaming on your account before you travel.
Hop has some disadvantages
compared to Riiing - it doesn't have SMS or voicemail services,
and much of the time, its airtime costs are more expensive than
with Riiing. It is also more expensive to buy up front, and more complicated to make calls with.
But in some countries, Hop
is cheaper, and in a few countries, Hop provides service but Riiing does
We think, for 95% or more of
travelers, Riiing will be the better solution.
Mobal is the lowest priced
option to buy, and if you don't already have a GSM phone, they
have great values on mobile phones, too.
A unique feature of the
Mobal SIM is that your number is given to you for life.
You never need to pay money to renew it.
They also have free incoming
calls, but only in the UK. Much of the time, their airtime
costs will end up higher than Riiing. But if you want a
phone only for emergencies rather than as a convenience aid that
you'll use regularly while traveling, Mobal may be the lowest
If you are anticipating a
moderate amount of usage, and if you will be primarily visiting
countries where Riiing has free incoming calls and low outgoing
calls, then Riiing may be your best choice.
(e) Local pre-paid SIMs
Not strictly speaking a
global roaming option, but if you're spending a reasonable
amount of time in a single country, buying a local SIM for that
country might be your best choice.
Incoming calls will probably
be free, local calls might be cheaper than with Riiing, and it
will be much easier for other people in that country to call
Telestial offer a wide range of SIMs for many different
countries, or you can simply buy one once you get to your
Help choosing what is best for
Here is a
summary of the different rates charged by the different
And here is a
decision matrix to help you match
your needs to the different product options open to you.
It is now easier - and more
affordable - than ever before to enjoy the security and
convenience of a cell phone while traveling internationally.
If your travel and phone
usage patterns fit well with Riiing, you can choose it with
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1 Apr 2005, last update
28 Nov 2012
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.