Roaming cell phone charges while traveling abroad are still a major concern among consumers. As many as 60% of travelers don’t switch on their mobile device when they travel overseas, due in large part to fears of racking up huge roaming bills. Much of this fear isn’t due to voice, but data use, which has spiked with the adoption of smartphones and tablets.
Last Monday, Cubic Telecom (Dublin, Ireland) announced a new global data SIM card which allows users to use voice and data services on their smartphones and tablets will traveling abroad. The SIM card can be switched between the user’s smartphone and tablet, and allows them to get billed in real-time for data usage. The MAXROAM SIM card works in 44 countries and costs $.65 per MB of data.
According to Pat Phelan, MAXROAM director of innovation, typical rates by other operators can be as high as $20 per MB when traveling internationally. At Rogers Communication (Toronto, Canada) customers visiting Europe are charged $28 per MB; an Australian traveling to Europe could pay as high as $15 per MB; and the Japanese KDDI network (Tokyo) charges $21 per MB in Europe, according to Phelan.
MAXROAM SIM cards can be ordered online and replace the existing SIM card in a GSM phone. Once activated through the website, the SIM card will begin working. According to Cubic Telecom, the cards are good until the data limit is reached, and gives you the option of adding more MB of data when you are approaching the limit. There are not overage fees or hidden costs, according to Phelan.
The SIM card, which comes with two data limits, a 10 MB card for $10 and a 50 MB card for $29, works in Europe, India, Australia, South Africa and South East Asia. When in these locations, customers will pay local or low cost roaming rates, says Phelan.
Each SIMs card comes with a UK mobile phone. If someone in the United States was planning on visiting the UK, they could add a U.S. number to their SIM card. Friends and family in the U.S. could call the U.S. number and reach the person anywhere in the world for no cost, according to Phelan.
Cubic Telecom also offers this service as a white label company, providing companies with already established global relationships.
“Imagine that you’re a global company based in the U.S. and you came up with some 3G tablet. Generally what you would have to do is you would do a deal with Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint in the U.S. and for the skew of your European model, you would have to go to every carrier in Europe and do an independent deal, which would probably take you ten years,” says Phelan. “With this you are a global player without having to negotiate your way around all these GSM providers.”