Home Your Tech Mobility Globalgig lets users globally roam, gulping cheap 3G data: great!

Globalgig lets users globally roam, gulping cheap 3G data: great!

Global telcos who are well known to rip-off global travellers who happen to roam in countries other than their own need to watch out: the Globalgig cavalry has galloped in, offering international 3G data roamers gargantuan savings on overseas and even local gigabytes.

If there’s one thing that connected tech-toting international travellers have discovered, it’s that mobile/cellular data costs even more overseas than the already sky-high mobile voice rates.

We’ve all read recent reports of people coming back from overseas travel to bills of hundreds, thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars – these days not from liberal use of voice calling, but instead from simply using a smartphone or tablet like they would at home to check emails, Facebook, sites, apps, messaging and more.

That’s because global telcos have decided to charge extremely high prices for international voice and data roamers who choose to use their home country SIM cards, with the rip-off pricing seeing savvy tech travellers simply buying local pre-paid SIM cards for voice and data instead.

Nowadays, however, people carry more than just their smartphones with them – people now have various 3G and 4G tablets and notebooks, pocket Wi-Fi hotspots and 3G/4G USB dongles that they take with them on travels too.

While a pre-paid SIM card when overseas is still a handy way to get inexpensive access to local calls in each country, access to data is today’s other must-have, giving you access to Google, email and everything else.

If, however, you have to wait for a usable free or paid Wi-Fi connection to appear, or you have to wait until you can get to a store to buy a pre-paid SIM card, or worse, you use your home country SIM card to get roaming data, you either have to wait until Wi-Fi is available or pay through the nose for roaming data rates just so you can check your email as your plane is taxiing to the gate after having landed.

What you need instead is a globally inexpensive SIM card that you insert into your tablet, your main smartphone or a spare one before you even get on the plane at all.

Companies such as TravelSIM have offered a low-cost global voice roaming service for some time, to great effect. On the 3G data side of the equation, Globalgig is now doing the same too.

What it’s launching today are plans that start from $9 per gigabyte per month in Australia for locals, and when roaming, $19 per gigabyte per month in a total of 11 countries – UK, USA, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Italy, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Spain and Sweden - with a 5GB plan that allows 3G data in those same 11 countries for an impressively low $49 per month.

Naturally, that’s with no lock in contracts and, as Globalgig describes, “the freedom to change plans month by month at no extra cost”.

As Globalgig notes on its site, Telstra’s equivalent data pack for approximately 1GB of data costs around $1800, which is a stark difference from $19.

Now sure, there’s no mention of even faster 4G data speeds, but for an “ultra-low cost” global service, 3G at these prices is clearly impressive. I can only imagine 4G will be added to the mix at some point in the future, perhaps as 4G itself becomes less premium as networks instead roll out even faster still 4G LTE-A (Advanced) networks proliferate most likely during 2014 and beyond.

More impressive than an 11 or 12 country service is one that spans a total of 40 countries, as Globalgig does, with those other countries simply costing 20c per megabyte on an as-used basis, with no “minimum data sessions or data rounding” – another nifty decision that keeps end-user costs as low as possible.

Those other countries are: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, San Moreno, Slovakia, Slovenia Turkey and Vatican City.

Australian Globalgig 3G data SIM card users pay only $29 per 5GB of data per month, which is also impressive.

In Australia, Globalgig uses the Optus Network, and while it isn’t as strong as Telstra’s Next G network in range or speed, the network works and provides data to millions of Optus customers.

However, while the offer does have clear local appeal, the pricing for international usage is astounding, and will clearly generate a lot of interest, excitement and usage.

Globalgig’s says its mantra was “to eliminate the horrendous bill shock suffered by so many mobile data users and to enable the use of smartphones, tablets, laptops and mobile devices in as many countries as possible, without users having to change their data habits at all.”

Globalgig GM James Boardman explains that, “Our value proposition is a simple one and an unmatched one. With Globalgig you can now choose a plan that provides 1GB of mobile data in Australia from just $9 per month and internationally starting from just $19 per GB per month for the Jetsetter plan, without changing any of your usual data habits. This means no more panic over data roaming or looking for the nearest WiFi when you land overseas, you simply connect to Globalgig and use your device as you would normally within Australia, whichever country you’re in.”

If you already have a SIM-card enabled device, Globalgig has $2 SIM cards in various sizes or a SIM-card enabled Wi-Fi 3G hotspot costing just $49 which can support up to 5 simultaneous users, naturally for any Wi-Fi enabled PC, Mac, iDevice, Android, Windows Phones, games consoles and the rest.

Globalgig’s GM, James Boardman continued, noting that Globalgig’s founders “wanted to create a typical, fair-go Aussie consumer champion in terms of a mobile data service. No fixed contracts, no hidden charges, easy to use and above all extremely low cost. That’s how Globalgig truly enables you to use data on your mobile devices both domestically and overseas where other carriers financially punish you for it.”

Boardman concluded, “We have a simple challenge for consumers and competitors alike - try us and see if you can beat us for value for money and international coverage. We have even more announcements to come around this but, just as an indicator an International Casual Traveller Data Pack from a major Australian Telco will currently cost you $1800 to use 2GB of mobile data overseas, whereas to use 3GB with Globalgig in 10 overseas countries can cost you as little as $35 on the Jetsetter plan – and no, that’s not a typo!”

Full rates and more information is available at Globalgig’s site.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.