Roaming tips and tricks


[edit] Data connections when roaming

Turning off internet connections when roaming is obviously the best way to cut costs completely, though there are cases when this is inconvenient (such as when automated email retrieval is a necessity). HOWEVER, being always online poses certain problems and risks associated mainly with your bill at the end of the month.

The following is a list of the main causes for unnecessary/unwanted traffic.

[edit] Automatic updates

Problem: One of the things that happens automatically every morning around 8 o'clock is a check for updates. It usually happens silently, and you won't know about it unless there are any updates available (case in which the little orange notification pops up in the status area).

Depending on the number of active repositories, the update can use between a couple hundred kB and 5-6MB or more. This is a sure way to an eye-popping bill at the end of the month (considering EU data charges of approximately 6EUR/MB).

Solution: Go into System > App manager, tap on the menu, select Application catalogs, then successively select each catalog there and check the Disabled box, then click Save.

Alternative solution: Disable the auto updates check has the advantage that you can still quickly update the repos when you're on WiFi.

[edit] Email

Depending on the need to have automatic email retrieval, you might want to keep it or turn it off completely when roaming.

Note for IMAP users: By default the Email application appears to check for email updates only in the Inbox folder, so to minimize data transfer you might want to set up automatic filters to divert non important emails to other folders that you can later check manually.

[edit] RSS

RSS feed readers are another type of applications which can generate traffic due to automatically updating their content. The default RSS reader has an option to update automatically only when connected to WLAN, so it's better to use that. Settings can vary for the other applications.

[edit] Weather apps

Situation quite similar to the RSS feeds apps. Automatic updates should be set to only when connected to WLAN or disabled altogether.

[edit] OVI Maps and other GPS apps

Maps applications rely on getting a GPS position. The N900 features an option to get an approximate position first using GSM towers and triangulation which it then uses to get a lock on the GPS satellites. This require a data connection and a small amount of traffic. Turning this feature off can save a couple of kB. You can turn it off in System > Settings > Connectivity > Location, under Network positioning.

In addition, you can incur heavy traffic if you have not preloaded your destination maps on your device (using Nokia Map Loader or by any other means). However, there are situations when there are updates available to the maps of your destination, and the Maps application will download them automatically. This is also a great way to get heavy traffic (from a couple hundred of kB to a few MB). To avoid this, it's better to open up the application before leaving abroad and navigate to your destination using pan and zoom, then zoom somewhere between city level and street level. This will prompt the Maps application to download any existing updates, thus avoiding the same when roaming.

WARNING: There is heavy traffic totalling about 400kB EACH TIME when launching the Nokia Maps, even when the network positioning is set to off. Please see this bug report here [1].

[edit] Data granularity

This can sometimes be the deciding factor between always online and manual internet connections when roaming. Data is usually rounded up to a certain amount of kB (10kB for EU as far as I'm aware). Thus, connecting and doing a 4kB amount of traffic and then disconnecting would still be billed as 10kB. If you use your maps application for example, which uses A-GPS to find your position, the amount of transferred data is very small. Disconnecting afterwards would make you pay for 10kB.

Depending on your needs, you might decide that having a continuous internet connection (always online) might be cheaper. Data would pile up, and the whole amount would be rounded up to the nearest 10kB, as opposed to each data transfer being rounded up.