If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve been having a bit of a moan about mobile data roaming when travelling abroad. Obviously, being online and staying in contact is really important when, like me, it’s your business, but just generally, most people want to be able to stay in touch when they’re abroad (although obviously tweeting when you’re on the beach is generally only the preserve of nutters like me).
When we were in France, we went to a local shop and bought a local sim and a little ‘MiFi’ unit, that works by creating your own wireless network. It worked pretty well, but it wasn’t cheap and obviously the language barrier was a whole factor in trying to understand how it worked, and our 500MB seemed to go very quickly. We’re all on o2 contracts here at English Towers (and we’re generally happy with the service we receive here in the UK. I’ve been an 02 customer since they were BT Cellnet and never felt the need to change) so in the end, I just relied on my O2 Travel add on, which is £1.99 a day and only available in Europe. For that, you get 15MB, which is pretty small, then when you’ve used it up you can text to reset your allowance for another £1.99 for another 15MB.
So. You’re paying FOUR QUID a day for 30MB of data above and beyond your normal mobile bill. A pretty expensive option if you’re on holiday for two weeks, and obviously not suitable for my upcoming trip to the States. For international travel, 02 have a Data Abroad bolt-on which as far as I understand it (I’ll be honest – I don’t understand it so don’t quote me) means that the maximum you’ll be charged for using data abroad is ‘£48 within the EU or £40 (excl VAT) outside the EU’ a month for 50MB unless you opt to take the bigger option of 200MB for £120 per month.
My friend Chris is also on 02 and told me that during a recent trip to the US his friends on Three were texting, tweeting and Instagramming away using their normal UK allowances, while he was basically paying a FORTUNE to use his 02 phone abroad
So I looked it up. And they really were. Basically, and again, this is just how I understand it, please don’t quote me or take anything I say as gospel, if you’re a Three customer, you can use their ‘feel at home’ service in quite a few countries, including the USA, Italy, the Republic of Ireland, Austria, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau… and with more planned to join them.
This basically means that you can use your normal data, phone and text allowance while you’re away. A quick phone call confirmed that this applied to Pay As You Go customers as well. So I nipped to my local Three store, bought a PAYG sim, and once I’ve been a customer for 30 days, I can use my allowances on my next trip to the USA, basically meaning that if I buy a £15 SIM, I’ll get 3000 texts, 300 minutes of calls and ‘all you can eat’ (basically unlimited, but capped to a huge 25GB while roaming) data.
I did ask 02 if they were planning on doing anything similar (bearing in mind I’m contracted to them until something like July 2015) but their reply was ‘Unfortunately we can.t comment on other companies deals’ (sic) but fingers crossed they’ve got something similar in the pipeline.