Will my device work overseas?

 

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Will my device work overseas?

A holidaying couple enjoying a coffee and using their tablet device to catch up with family back home in Australia

What's coming up

In this activity, you'll learn some more about what happens to your mobile phone when you go overseas.

You'll also find out which settings to check, to make sure everything will run smoothly during your trip.

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Global coverage

Using your Australian mobile phone overseas used to be tricky. But nowadays, most countries use a standardised system for mobile networks.

This means no matter what phone you buy, or which Australian provider you choose, the phone will almost certainly work in most places around the world.

Flags of some of the many countries where we can use our Aussie mobile phones
Fast 4G internet is available almost everywhere in the world

Fast data almost everywhere

New Australian phones work on a fourth-generation mobile data network called 4G. It's very fast and will be replaced by an even faster system called 5G over the next few years.

Almost every country in the world offers a 4G network now. You need to go pretty far off the beaten track to have no mobile phone reception.

Mobile coverage in different countries

Here's a map that shows mobile phone network coverage around the world. Green is places where you will get the same data speeds as here in Australia.

The paler green countries only offer 3G speeds. Red is the very basic old data network called GSM.

A map of the world showing where you can and cannot get mobile reception
A mobile phone calling home from Paris

Your phone will choose the fastest network

While most countries now offer 4G, you might still encounter smaller regional or local areas where coverage is limited.

All new Australian mobile phones have the ability to use 4G, 3G and GSM data networks. Your phone will pick up the signal and choose the fastest network wherever you are.

Enabling data when overseas

Your phone will connect to a mobile network overseas automatically, so you can make voice calls and use data. But, like at home, it needs to identify itself as having your mobile phone number, mobile phone account and data plan. It does this with a system called international roaming.

A laptop computer screen showing a web page for international roaming plans
A mobile phone screen showing the Data Roaming option set to 'on' in settings

Roaming

Most mobile phone providers will set you up with international roaming, also called roaming , already switched on and ready to use whenever you want to travel. If roaming is not enabled, you can arrange with your provider to switch it on before you go overseas.

Well done!

This is the end of the Will my device work overseas? activity. You've learned that today's mobile phones automatically connect to mobile phone networks overseas. You'll be able to make calls and use data as normal, but it could cost a bit more.

Up next, you'll learn more about how you get charged while using your mobile phone outside Australia, in the Does data cost more overseas? activity.

A couple using their device on the New York subway