The present era is known as the Information Age. The reason is simple; we are continuously transferring information through various sources. The most important source of information for modern human beings is the internet, available on computers, mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and, of course, smartphones. To keep us connected at all times, telecom companies came up with a solution of an expanded network compatible with a SIM card.
The expanded network simply means that whenever you go somewhere where your home network is not available, you will still get a connection. It comes from another network your home one has an understanding with. Don’t fret if this is confusing. In the coming sections, we will examine several aspects in detail.
Explanation of an Expanded Network
Simply put, an expanded network is an emergency network. You can usually see an indicator on the top of your device’s screen when your carrier’s network towers are absent. There are many places where there is no signal from your home network. In such a case, the expanded network comes in as a savior. When your home network is unavailable, you are provided with temporary services by another mobile network. That lasts until you are back in an area where you can connect to your home network’s nearest tower.
Different mobile operators often come into agreements to supplement each other for network services in dead zone areas. Let’s say you are a subscriber of carrier X and you go to an area where they don’t have a network tower. At this point, you may see “extended LTE” on the signal area of your device’s screen. When that happens, you will be using the signal from another network, say carrier Y, which has a more stable network than your home network (carrier X). That doesn’t involve any extra charges, because your home network has an arrangement with the other network (carrier Y) for providing the signal in carrier X’s dead zone.
Frequently Used Phrases and Words for Expanded Network SIM Card
There are some words and phrases synonymous with expanded networks used by mobile operators Therefore, don’t get confused when some of these are used in place of “expanded network”:
- Domestic roaming
- Roaming domestically
- Off-net coverage
- Extended network LTE
- Extended network
- Off-network data
- Extended LTE
- Extended coverage
The number of phrases and words to denote “expanded network” may be overwhelming, but individual mobile operators usually stick to one or two terms. For example, AT&T uses “off-net” and “off-network” while Verizon and T-Mobile use “domestic roaming”.
Benefits of Expanded Networks
Because of the expanded network, you will get better connectivity in areas where there is no signal availability from your home network provider. The agreement between the two carriers is bilateral, which means both mobile network operators can use each other’s towers in their respective dead zone areas. Moreover, to use the expanded networks, the consumers are not charged anything extra. This is drastically different from roaming. On roaming, you are charged for using another carrier’s network when your home network is unavailable.
Drawbacks of Expanded Networks
Every good thing has a bad side too. The same goes with expanded networks as well. When you use the expanded network, you may notice that the speed of the internet may slip down and the call quality may not be at par. This is because when you use it, the burden on the supporting carrier may increase in that area, hence the speed and quality may get hampered. However, this is a very small sacrifice on the part of the subscriber because having some signal is always better than no signal. That’s why the drawback weighs lighter than the benefits of an expanded network.
Difference Between Expanded Network and Roaming
Everything about the expanded network is already mentioned in the sections above. Now, let’s talk about roaming. Roaming is quite different from an expanded network on many parameters. Foremost, there is no agreement between carriers in the case of roaming. Moreover, roaming is not free as well. When you are roaming, it means you are using another network’s signals. This other network has no agreement with your carrier hence it will charge you extra, called the roaming charges.
Roaming charges are taken from your home network by the roaming-providing network. Later on, your home network passes on these roaming charges to you. It is important to note that not all carriers have contracts with other operators to provide expanded networks to their subscribers. Hence, roaming is more prevalent than expanded networks. It is also essential to remember that even after having expanded networks, you may face “no signal” issues if there is no tower nearby. This applies to either a home network or that of a carrier your original carrier has an agreement with.