Friday, January 25, 2008

Roaming Policies In Wireless Contracts part 2

This the the second and final part of my post about the roaming policies of the major wireless service networks. We took the wireless contracts of these companies and looked for statements that relate to their roaming policies.

In my last post, I gathered the roaming policies of Alltel, AT&T and Sprint Nextel and made a few comparisons. I am aiming to the same for three more carriers. But before I do that let me give a brief review of the definition of roaming.

The term roaming as used in the wireless telecommunications industry refers to the extending of connectivity service in a location that is different from the home location where the service was registered. Basically, if you use your mobile phone on a network that is outside the home service area of your carrier then you are roaming. OK, lets proceed to the roaming policies.

Let us begin with the roaming policy of T-Mobile. The Billing, Charges, and Late Fees section of T-Mobile's terms and Conditions express that,
Except to the extent prohibited by law, billing of roaming charges and minutes or Services used may be delayed or applied against included minutes or Services in subsequent billing cycles, which may cause you to exceed your included minutes or Services in a particular billing cycle. Roaming and other call rating (such as time of call) depend on the location of the network equipment providing Service for a particular call and not the location of the Phone. For billing purposes, you agree not to rely on indicators on your Phone (such as roaming and call time), which may be inaccurate.
In the first statement, T-mobile informs the customer that he or she may exceed the allotted included minutes because the billing of roaming charges or minutes may be applied to the included minutes of a plan. That is certainly something to consider before you make calls outside the home service area of your carrier.

The carrier is also warning their customers not to rely on the indicator of their mobile phones as they may be inaccurate. Arguments on bills based on the indicators will not be valid. they are also making it clear that the location of the phone is not the basis of roaming ratings but the location of the network providing the service.

Let us check out how US Cellular treats roaming. Their Customer Service Agreement states that,
Due to delayed reporting by other carriers, some wireless usage while roaming outside a U.S. Cellular market may be billed in months subsequent to your actual usage. The minutes used, and associated charges, will be applied against your monthly plan minutes in the month that the usage appears on your bill rather than the month the calls were actually placed.
US Cellular's roaming policy focuses on the billing aspects of roaming. Unlike the other carriers, they did not touch upon any penalties when abusing roaming or the inaccurate roaming indicators on the mobile phone.

They explain to their customers that the roaming charges they incur may be billed in months subsequent to their actual usage due to delays on the reports of other carriers. They also exp0lain that due to the delay the charges will not be deducted on the months that they actual roaming calls were made.

Let us now look at the the Customer Agreement of Verizon Wireless. The Roaming and Roaming Charges section of that document states that,
You're "roaming" whenever you make or receive a call using a transmission site outside your Home Rate and Coverage Area, or using another company's transmission site. Your wireless phone may sometimes connect to and roam on another company's network even when you're within your Home Rate and Coverage Area or Local Calling Area. There may be extra charges (including charges for long distance, tolls, or calls that don't connect) and higher rates for roaming calls, depending on your Calling Plan.
Interestingly, Verizon warns their customers that they may actually be roaming even if they are within their Home Rate and Coverage Area or Local Calling Area. This may be similar to T-Mobile's policy that the rating does not depend on the location of the phone but on the network.

They are also notifying their customers that roaming calls may have higher rates and additional charges depending on the wireless plan. However, they do not offer any policy that states a penalty may be incurred if the customer make too many roaming calls or the unreliable indicators on the cell phone.

Those are the roaming policies of T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon. Every roaming policy is different but they also share some similarities. One constant factor is that roaming calls mean extra charges for the customer. I hope that my posts on the roaming policies of different wireless networks can give you some useful info.

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