Anyone that has travelled away overseas has battled juggling sim cards, phones, plans or just goes dark. But sometimes going dark is not really an option. Travelling internationally on your own mobile number is still a complex jumble of hacks to get an average result without the cost.
While prices are dropping, the inconvenience and pressure to get it right still means you either “insure yourself” with your carrier by oversubscribing to a roaming pack, you don’t use your sim or have to adjust your behaviour. Many carriers have OK roaming plans, but they are usually limited to about 50 countries, data speeds through these plans are highly variable and are often capped at unworkable speeds on a 2G network. Calls can also be of suspect quality as you jump between buildings, carriers and busy locations. This just adds to the frustration. But you’re not going to change from your local carrier when you are on a 2 year plan, or just for one or two trips a year?
Skype, Viber, WhatsApp etc all are great for those personal touchpoints, but for business, my contact point is my mobile phone. Missing that important work call these days when overseas is not great. I am happy to change my other forms of communication, but my mobile phone number is important to me.
When you use a multitude of these apps, you can have 5 or 6 of them open on a smartphone at any one time chewing through your roaming data. (A future Strone product feature may help with this!) Before you know it, a Facebook post, a few Skype calls, a search of Maps and there goes 150MB off your pre-arranged plan an hour after you have landed! Then there is the promise of Wi-Fi. Don’t get me wrong, Wi-Fi is brilliant, but when I book into the hotel and the offer is free Wi-Fi, it often is at speeds that resemble my old 128KB modem! So I pay $25 to upgrade. As you can see, the solutions are hacks, and we end up paying more for less.
When we prepare for travel, we book 12 weeks in advance, we make sure we have our passport and we line up our meetings if travelling for work (or the cocktail menu for that hard earned break!). We are often apathetic to our communications or we are totally overwhelmed and confused by the options. Often we are directed to the expensive offer (by our carrier), to the IT department (by our company) or we put it off and deal with the pain when we get back.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have this solved (for good)!
Categorised in: Blog