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In depth: Dodo WorldSIM (Global Roaming)

  • Offers great value in developed countries
  • Complements other high-value Dodo plans
  • Up to 200 countries supported
Written by Adam Wajnberg

Dodo has a reputation for offering the very cheapest deals for mobile, broadband, gas and electricity on the market. But in mobile they’re a cut above the rest, offering customers a wide range of popular handsets at very good prices on contract, and at even better prices if buying outright and pairing up with a month-to-month plan. Their $39.90 Magic SIM is just about the best plan we’ve seen – free calls, free text, 5GB of data. The only plan that comes close is Amaysim’s Unlimited plan, which comes with 4GB of data at the same price.

dodo worldsim

Click here to check out the Dodo Magic SIM plan, or call 1300 136 793!

Click here to check out the Amaysim Unlimited Plan, or call 1300 302 942!

So knowing that Dodo has found a way to bring big value to standard mobile, the question is: can they apply that magic to Global Roaming, by far the most expensive way to making a phone call known to man?

What is Global Roaming?

Your mobile phone works by using a SIM card (fun fact: SIM stands for Subscriber Identification Module) to access a local mobile network. The SIM card will contain information identifying you as a paying customer to that network. All that is within the grasp of most mobile users.

Roaming, on the other hand, identifies you to the local mobile network tower as an intruder, a non-paying subscriber. If the network you’re roaming on has a cross-agreement with your actual provider, then usually this won’t cost you any extra. Australian networks have long ceased allowing roaming in-country, preferring instead to simply block you out.

If you’re using your Australian SIM on any network overseas, you’re roaming. But instead of a simple inter-company connection rate, you’re paying a truly outrageous rate to squat on another network. How outrageous? If you’re in the USA, a relatively advanced country (this is coming from an ex-patriate), you’ll pay between $2 and $3 per minute for a call, and $15 per megabyte if you’re using data. That’s $120 for an hour long phone call, and FIFTEEN THOUSAND dollars for a gigabyte of data.

This is no small thing. For an uninitiated, tech-ignorant person, Global Roaming can turn a fun holiday into a painful nightmare when they get home and get the bill. Some people don’t know a megabyte from a pack of cards, so asking them to estimate how many they’re going to use is futile. And that’s for the USA – God help you if you use it in a country with a less advanced telecommunications network.

Isn’t this 2012?

Given that mobile telecommunications have been around since the early 80’s, you’d think that a solution would have been worked out by now to make this better. After all, several firms are international – If you’re a Vodafone customer here, surely you should be able to use the Vodafone network in the UK for nothing, or the Verizon network (part owned by Vodafone) in the USA, right?

Alas, these sorts of agreements have failed to pan out. Optus is owned by Singtel, which has 400 million subscribers across Singapore and the rest of south-east Asia. Telstra operates units in New Zealand and the USA, as well as Fiji, East Timor and the PNG. But so far, roaming has remained an exclusive, overpriced affair.

How to overcome this

Overcoming the costs associated with Global Roaming is more about moving to a different way of switching calls. The traditional means – taking a voice call, collecting it a tower, and then sending it along several networks to a phone at the other end- is expensive, regardless of the point of origin.

Switching a call with IP – Internet Protocol – is the next step. This is a form of Voice Over Internet Protocol – or VoIP. It allows calls to be collected as data, sent via back channels over the internet, and reconstructed on the other end. Doing this in a way that eliminates lag is difficult, but that keeps improving. Meanwhile, the cost of switching calls goes down dramatically.

Dodo (and several other providers) do this in Australia to offer free calls on traditional landlines, as well as on their mobile plans. Can it be used for Global Roaming?

Dodo WorldSIM

Dodo appears to be the only firm trying this in a big way right now. Their WorldSIM is certainly fiddly. Here are the steps involved:

1.       Place your WorldSIM in your unlocked mobile handset

2.       Go to phone settings and turn on Global Roaming

3.       When making a call, type into your phone the plus symbol (+), then the country code, area code and phone number, followed by the hash (#) symbol.

4.       Press Dial/Send.

5.       You’ll receive a message that your call is in progress.

6.       After 10 seconds or so, your phone will ring. Answer it, and your call has been connected.

Sounds pretty complicated, huh? Let’s see how much money this saves. We’ll take 2 examples from opposite ends of the pool when it comes to stability and availability of mobile networks – the UK and India


Normal per minute rate (Telstra) - $1.09

WorldSIM per minute rate - $0.22 (to mobile), $0.03 (to landlines)

Normal data rate (Telstra) - $15.36 per megabyte + 50c per session connection rate

WorldSIM data rate - $3.30 per megabyte

Normal SMS - $0.75

WorldSIM SMS - $0.50

That’s some very big savings there, for less work than using Skype (which requires a nearby Wi-Fi connection, and won’t marry up to your normal mobile number). Making 2 hours worth of calls with the WorldSIM will set you back over $130 with Telstra, while Dodo will charge $26, or only $3.60 for calls to a landline.


Normal per minute rate (Telstra) - $1.99

WorldSIM per minute rate - $2.13 (to mobile), $0.03 (to landlines)

Normal data rate (Telstra) - $15.36 per megabyte + 50c per session connection rate

WorldSIM data rate - $19.30 per megabyte

Normal SMS - $0.75

WorldSIM SMS - $0.80

Well, this is interesting. In India, it’s actually overall cheaper to go with traditional International Roaming – demonstrating that whatever Dodo is doing to keep costs down in the UK, they can’t pull off at the same scale in India.


You can check out a full rate table for Dodo WorldSIM by clicking here.
You’ll probably find that the same rule applies to using it as you would a traditional International Roaming plan – keep on top of it and use it sparingly.

Overall, we find that the rates for developed countries (US, UK, most of Europe, South Africa, Brazil, Israel, Lebanon, NZ, etc) are typically far cheaper than traditional International Roaming rates – for calls and for data. Rates in countries with less developed telecoms infrastructure tend to be similar or slightly higher than traditional International Roaming. This would suggest that Dodo has an internet Point-of-Presence in the developed countries, and rely on traditional roaming agreements in the rest.

As with anything else, it pays to take the time to work out exactly what you’ll need and what will work best for you. One big advantage to the Dodo WorldSIM is that it works off prepaid credit. This can be annoying if you’re in the middle of nowhere and have run out of credit, but it also means you can’t get a ruinous bill on your return.

Call Dodo on 1300 136 793 for more information.



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