When calls and texts while roaming do not work

This post is as reminder for my future self. If roaming data works, and if you can get texts and calls abroad, but you can’t call anyone in the UK (the provider country), then you might have disabled international calls.

I was in Europe, had used data already, couldn’t send a text earlier, but didn’t think anything about it. And then I tried to make a call. But I only hear the call sound that the called number doesn’t exist, and later that the called number was busy. I tried a few things to investigate about a problem, as six months ago it worked fine:

  • I can’t make calls or send texts
  • I can receive both calls and texts
  • I can use mobile data
  • roaming is enable both in the Giffgaff app and on the SIM settings; and the little “R” was visible next the network strength
  • the problem remains when I change the network provider
  • I’m in the country for over 5 hours now
  • restarts don’t help (enabling aeroplane mode, restart, and leaving the phone off for a while)
  • I tried to use country (area) codes +44 and 00 44

From the first four points it was clear that roaming itself worked alright, and from the next that it wasn’t a problem with providers. But I couldn’t think about what could be the problem.

Only after a nights sleep, I went again to the settings provided in the giffgaff app. And then I saw that a few months ago I disabled International calls. I enabled them and suddenly calls were possible.


As I didn’t try a call before changing the settings, I then switched the settings back off, so that the scientist part of me could check that there was a causation and not a merely correlation. And indeed, calls weren’t possible anymore. And then I was told that settings could only be changed twice in 24 hours, so I had to contact the helpdesk to change the setting back. Which they did a bit later, since then all is working well.

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