Wireless phone coverage areas: Roaming
"Roaming" is the term that describes a cell phone's ability to make and receive calls outside the home calling area. Roaming occurs when a subscriber of one wireless service provider uses the facilities of another wireless service provider. This second provider has no direct pre-existing financial or service agreement with this subscriber to place or receive a call. When your phone is roaming, an indicator light on your phone may display the word "roam."
If your carrier's signal is too weak, roaming can occur even if you are using your cell phone in your own home calling area. A phone can also go into roaming mode if there is a high volume of callers in the area. Imagine that you are surrounded by cell towers, but your carrier's towers are at their capacity or out of range. Instead of having a call blocked or dropped, your phone might use another provider's tower (roam), sometimes at a higher price.Roaming fees are traditionally charged on a per-minute basis and they are typically determined by your service provider's pricing plan. Several carriers have eliminated these fees in their nationwide pricing plans. All of the major carriers now offer pricing plans that allow consumers to purchase a "bucket" of monthly minutes to use nationwide without incurring roaming charges. Consumers should be aware however, that carriers define "nationwide" in different ways. For example, some carriers define "nationwide" as anywhere in the country, whereas others define it as anywhere within the carrier's network. Check with your carrier for information on plans without roaming charges or about other roaming options.
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