Unauthorised roaming in Cuba


I went to Cuba with my Fairphone 2 and only used roaming in emergencies. I had “mobile data” switched off all the time, except for the minutes I wanted to use it. Background data was switched off all the time during the complete stay.
Nevertheless, soon I got a SMS from my provider telling me that I almost reached my cost limit for data. Afterwards, I did not switch of “mobile data” again. But even though it was switched off since that SMS, I got another SMS the next day, telling me that I now reached my cost limit and can’t use mobile data anymore until I activate it again.
After I got back, I received the itemised phone bill and it stated two connections to mobile data on two consecutive days at times I was definitely sleeping. One was 1450 kb and the other one 1970 kb, costing me almost 40€. I objected the bill but the provider told me that there definitely was a connection from my phone. But this is not possible.
Is there any way I can find a protocol of the mobile data connections of my phone to prove this? Or to find out was was wrong in my phone? Not only did this cost me almost 40€ but I’ll be abroad some more weeks this year and would like to be able to use my Fairphone there (being sure that it won’t connect to mobile data without me wanting it to). Has someone else had this problem before? I didn’t find anything in the forum.

Thank you so much for your help!


Your bill will most likely show your providers’ local times. Were you still sleeping when you convert the time? Which provider do you use? I’m surprised that they cut off at 40 €. Has the limit been lowered recently? I recall a limit around 65 € including tax.



thank you for your reply! I tought that it showed German time. If I don’t convert the time, I would have been awake. So indeed, it might have been possible that they just sent the SMS telling me that I reached the limit much later than when I used the data.

They cut off at 50€ (without tax). I know that I used the rest of the data, so I didn’t have a problem with that. It’s WinSIM.

Best regards

Time difference is likely what causes the confusion.

Remember there could be some substantial lag before you receive the SMS about data usage cap.

You might wanna consider to use data saver mode (though not sure if available in Android 6.x it is available in Android 7.1.2 / LOS).


Hei JeroenH,

thanks! Data saver mode sounds nice but I searched via Google and it doesn’t seem to be available for Android 6. However, if I switch background data of and enable mobile data only when needed, I should be relativly safe if I understand correctly. So I really have to be careful when travelling again.

Thanks again for the replies!


Hi Stefanie,

it depends which data they use for billing. When they use the transmitted records from Cuba it could show their timestamp. Cut off at 50€ plus tax is what I have expected for consumer contracts (unless you demand not to cut off). As @JeroenH correctly said, there may be a substantial lag receiving the SMS.

I don’t know what would be a data saver mode, but there are three options in Android 6 which I find important (the last one to restrict background data was already mentioned but I additionally give the path to find):

  • Turn off data roaming (I find useful only on a oversea ship or nearby a harbour with oversea ships because its cell can have a stronger signal than the regular country cell): Settings -> More -> Mobile networks -> Data roaming
  • Turn off data usage: Settings -> Wireless & networks -> Data usage -> Mobile data
  • Restrict background data (only foreground apps may use mobile data unless connected to Wifi, which can also be set to restricted): Settings -> Wireless & networks -> Data usage -> 3dot-menu -> Restrict background data

You should also be able to enforce your provider to change the cutoff. I can with the Vodafone NL application set it to 0 or 50 (excl tax indeed). You may have to log in to your provider’s website for that.

Sorry for not bringing it up earlier but there’s also another band-aid to your problem: a layer-7 (= on the application layer) firewall (network filter). That means you can tell this firewall to enable or disable network access on WiFi or mobile. An example of a layer-7 firewall is Netguard. Netguard doesn’t require root, some other layer-7 firewalls do. Its free to use but contains a banner. If you buy any of the pro features (cheapest 1,20 EUR) ads are disabled. Doubt you’d need the pro features though.


Wow, thanks a lot for your help! I’ll try the things next time I’m abroad!


An ad banner means data traffic. Even if it is a tiny size, the provider rounds it up according to their own rules (and I don’t mean your SIM card provider when you’re roaming outside of EU). I would definitely avoid such an approach when roaming. Additionally ads may imply security issues.

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It only shows the ad while you’re in the config menu. So if you set the thing up, should be fine. If you’re worried you can enable a pro feature before you go roaming.

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