Thursday, June 03, 2010

UK - Regulator's advice to avoid bill shock while roaming at the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa

[ofcom] It’s estimated that as many as 25,000 England football fans will be heading off to South Africa over the next few weeks for the 2010 World Cup.

If you’re one of those preparing to make to make the trip, a few preparations before you go will ensure that your main memory of the tournament isn’t an unexpected mobile phone bill.

It’s been estimated that fans travelling to the World Cup could spend hundreds of pounds calling, texting and uploading pictures from their mobiles.

That’s because although international call charges in the EU have fallen, roaming charges in countries like South Africa can be much higher.
International packages

Before heading off for the tournament, make sure ask your mobile phone company how much it will cost to use your handset in South Africa.

At the same time, check whether they have any international packages which would cut call and data costs.

You should also check with them whether your phone has been enabled to use abroad and whether your handset will work in South Africa.
Local SIM card

Once in South Africa it may be cheaper to buy a local SIM card which can put in your handset and used to dial numbers in that country.

South Africa has four mobile phone service providers – Cell C, MTN, Vodacom and Virgin Mobile – and mobile phone reception is generally good in major towns and cities but can be intermittent in more remote spots.

SIM cards can be bought at many retail outlets including mobile phone shops, supermarkets and grocery stores.

We have a consumer guide which you can download, print off and bring with you on your trip.

We also have a consumer video which explains more about using mobile services abroad.
Using the web

If you want to upload pictures and videos from the match to the internet, then it may be cheaper to use a computer at an internet café or at your hotel rather than use your phone.

Most international hotels have wireless connections either in guest rooms, business centres or some restaurants, and internet cafes can also be found throughout the country.

However, the Foreign Office has warned fans to be aware of internet scams while out in South Africa.

For example, you should be wary of online companies selling products such as accommodation which ask you to pay upfront and request your bank details.

If you are going to use the web while away then avoid using public terminals – such as internet cafes – for online banking. Also, remember that wireless connections are less secure.

If you’re taking your own computer then make sure you have an updated anti-virus and spyware programme and perform regular system scans.
Foreign Office registration

Finally, before you leave register your travel plans online with LOCATE.

LOCATE is a Foreign Office registration service for British nationals visiting or residing in a foreign country.

It helps the Foreign Office and British Embassies to contact you in an emergency or to pass on information that it wants to alert you about.

World Cup advice

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