Global Roaming


If you use your Australian phone while overseas, please be aware that you will incur high charges for using it to either make or receive voice calls and for sending/receiving emails.  This service - called 'Global Roaming' - can very quickly result in adding hundreds of dollars to your bill.

Where people in a department or workgroup travel regularly to specific locations, buying SIM cards and local mobile broadband USB sticks can be a much cheaper way to manage overseas communications costs.

Here are some tips on how to mitigate this.  It would be helpful if travellers augmented our body of knowledge with their own experiences!

If you'd like a detailed breakdown of your global roaming costs, please contact Laura Bell on ext 8426.

Phone calls - costs

When you travel overseas, you pay for ALL calls to your mobile number at roaming rates.  See the table below for the rate payable.  For a full list of countries (for Zones and rates) please visit :

Countries frequently visited by MBS staff include:
  • Singapore (Zone 2)
  • UK, New Zealand, USA (Zone 3)
  • China, Chile, India (Zone 5)
 Country Zone Rate for Voice Calls (per minute) Zone 1 Zone 2
 Zone 3
 Zone 4
 Zone 5
 Calling numbers within the same country (National Call) $0.60 $1.20 $1.50 $1.70 $1.90
 Calling numbers outside the country you are in (International Call) $1.34 $2.25 $3.30 $5.50 $6.30
 Receiving voice calls whilst roaming $0.43 $0.89 $1.17 $1.31 $1.42
 Sending an SMS whilst roaming $0.75 $0.75 $0.75 $0.75 $0.75
Note: data vailid as per Dec 2009. Use the Optus roaming page for current rates.

Phone call tips

  • If you can, ensure your phone is 'unlocked' (able to work with any carrier and SIM card).   Buy a pay-as-you-go SIM card and use it for making any calls.  This will give you local calls at local rates. To unlock a phone, please send the following information to Optus:
    • your IMEI number (this is found inside the battery cavity in the handset)
    • service (phone) number
    • your name
    • the Optus account number (you can obtain this from the IT Helpdesk if you don't know it already)
    • Email these to for them to unlock the phone.  Please allow several days for this to occur.  If you have difficulties, Optus' Mobile End User team can be contacted on 1300 133 334.
  • If you have difficulties with unlocking your phone, please don't hesitate to contact the ITS Helpdesk.
  • If travel to a specific destination is common within your work group, then acquire these SIMS and distribute to those who are travelling.
  • Divert your mobile to voicemail before you leave Australia.  You can then make a single call to your voicemail to pick up messages.  If you do not know the MBS Voicemail Phone number (+61 411 XXXXXXX), ask the ITS Helpdesk.
  • Respond to voice calls using email (but not using BlackBerry).  It is always cheaper to get on to the Internet and manage emails that way than use a BlackBerry.

BlackBerry tips

  • Using a BlackBerry for emails overseas incurs a charge of 20c per 10KB - and many emails are in the 30+KB range (and significantly more if there are attachments).  An email with a a simple document attachment is generally around 300KB - which would cost $6.
  • You can disable incoming and outgoing emails on the handset by following these steps:
    • From the main menu, highlight messages and Click to select.
    • Click to bring up the options menu, scroll down to options and then click to select it.
    • Scroll to Email Reconciliation and click to select.
    • Highlight Email Reconciliation and click to select.
    • Change the option to off.
  • ITS can stop forwarding emails to BlackBerry handsets on request.  Just contact the Help Desk on 8777.

iPhone tips

Some MBS staff have had success with using mobile broadband to access emails on their iPhones while traveling.  The trick is to DISABLE the 3G connection (Data Roaming is set to 'OFF' in the Network control panel). You can purchase a credit-card sized device that will provide you with a broadband connection through WIFI instead of 3G. For example, Verizon offers a pre-paid service - you can walk into any Verizon shop and get a mobile broadband service, starting from US$15 per day - or $30 for a week.  See for further information.

Sourcing foreign SIM cards

Buy when you get there

It is possible to buy a prepaid SIM card in a country that you're visiting.  Please ensure your phone is unlocked (see above) and simply swap SIM cards. In some countries you can buy SIM cards that will also include Data roaming.

Pre-purchase foreign SIM cards

It is possible to buy global or local SIM cards from  Click on the link and choose the most appropriate icon (ie AT&T for USA; International SIM cards for UK, etc).  An array of available SIM cards is presented.  Select an appropriate one and buy it online for delivery to Australia.

BlackBerry SIMs - US and UK

You can buy a pre-paid USA SIM card for USD79.99 from this link:  The purchasing link is on the left hand side of the page.  Scroll down for the UK Orange SIM card offer.  Click on the 'Buy Now' button and fill in delivery details and credit card information.

In using prepaid BlackBerry service, you do need to use an unlocked BlackBerry device.  Additionally, if you are using the same device you use on your home BlackBerry service, you will need to release the "blackberry pin" from your home service to activate the prepaid service. You can re-attach the pin when you return home.