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In connection with the winter season and more frequent trips to foreign ski resorts, the Czech Telecommunication Office (ČTÚ) is once again drawing attention to the pitfalls of using mobile services in foreign countries. Fortunately, these pitfalls are not great within the European Union due to regulation, but it still pays to know the difference between roaming and international calling.

To clarify the issue of roaming and international calling, the CTU has prepared this diagram. For example, it captures an interesting situation when you are with a Czech number in a foreign EU country and from there you call another foreign EU number. In this case, it is roaming, but if you called from the Czech Republic, it would be an international call.

In a nutshell: In roaming I am located if I have a foreign telephone number abroad and I use any mobile services there (calls, SMS, data roaming). In contrast, a phone call will be charged as international calls, if I am at home in the Czech Republic with my Czech mobile number and I call somewhere abroad, ie to a number with an international prefix than the Czech +420. International SMS are charged similarly.

Roaming

Within the EU countries, regulations are introduced for both types of services (roaming and international calls). However, only the “roam like at home” rule applies to roaming, ie you can use the services at home free of charge (this applies to voice calls and SMS 100%, data is subject to a certain limit, which is usually high enough for you to weekly leave).

Another case occurs if you travel with your mobile Czech number to a foreign country outside the EU, ie also Switzerland or Great Britain (Great Britain is still “recognized” by the EU as an EU country, but this may soon change). European regulation no longer applies here and it depends on your operator which roaming zone they place the country in. Here, according to the price list, you pay not only for outgoing call minutes, sent SMS and consumed data, but also for incoming voice calls. In particular, data can be really expensive, so it usually pays to buy a SIM from a local operator.

Beware of EU borders

In some places, usually near borders with non-EU countries, there may be an automatic choice of a “non-European” provider. In this case, it is better to manually set up your European provider’s network on your phone. Otherwise, there may be an increased billing for services, as in this case the “roaming like at home” principle does not apply and you will pay for the services according to the relevant price list for the given roaming zone of your operator.

International calling

For international calls, the currently set price cap per call minute is 0.19 euros (excluding VAT) and 0.06 euros (excluding VAT) for SMS sent to a foreign European number. The regulation of international communication by the European Union institutions applies only to consumers, ie natural persons who use this service for purposes outside the scope of business activities.

It may come in handy

Roaming price lists:

Price lists for international calls (+ SMS):

In theory, operators can charge lower rates for international calls and SMS than those given by the price cap, thus favoring selected countries. However, they usually touch the price cap (currently T-Mobile CZK 5.82, O2 CZK 5.89, Vodafone CZK 5.80). For some higher tariffs, a certain amount of free minutes for international calls is usually included in the flat rate. But it is always necessary to verify for which part of the world the advantage is intended.

Each operator of the world can freely divide it into different regions and set different prices for them. E.g. the Czech O2 has only two zones (EU, outside the EU), the Czech T-Mobile three (EU, the rest of Europe, the world), the domestic Vodafone divides countries for international calls into five regions (Region 0 to 4). Calls to the satellite network, which is usually the most expensive, are then charged separately and the price of one called minute can climb up to several hundred crowns.

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