Why you should care
Because nobody wants to pay huge roaming costs in order to use Facebook while on holiday.
Spending that hard-earned cash on exotic jaunts is wonderful, but the thought of the sky-high cellphone bills on return is scary enough to keep us on airplane mode the whole vacation. And that kinda sucks; we want to update friends and post that #tigerselfie straight to Instagram.
Sure, we could buy a local SIM for cheaper calling rates, but that’s bothersome. We have to download numbers, keep track of our old SIM, and deal with foreign currencies. KnowRoaming’s SIM sticker gets around all that. Anyone with an unlocked cellphone can use it, and there’s no need to remove your SIM or do anything fiddly. Simply press the sticker (which contains a smart microchip) atop your SIM card and download the free app. Your phone will then automatically convert to local call rates when you travel.
The app detects when you’ve changed locations, and automatically switches you onto a local price plan.
Staying in touch without roaming costs is something that resonates personally with KnowRoaming CEO Gregory Gundelfinger. He’s based in Canada, but his family is in South Africa. He wanted to find a solution to the “large discrepancy between local SIM cards and roaming prices.” At first his sticker idea was viewed as far-fetched. “It sounded like something out of Star Trek,” he says. “A sticker that could negate roaming charges!”
But the system is as straightforward as it sounds. You pay $29.99 for the sticker, place it on your cellphone and add credit to your account. The app detects when you’ve changed locations, and automatically switches you onto a local price plan. Sample rates: $7.99/day for unlimited data in (most of) Europe, and call rates of 12 cents a minute to mobiles in France. Some of the big networks are competing with better roaming packages, but they can be hit or miss with the countries they service — and KnowRoaming covers 200 countries.
A handy thing for U.S. and U.K. citizens: It’s free to keep your cell number — so you won’t miss those IMs (other countries can do this for a small charge). KnowRoaming also added a feature to enable cheap long distance calls from your home country.
It isn’t as cheap as local SIM cards, but the company argues that the convenience of the sticker is a big factor. Mobile technology expert and ChipChick editor Helena Stone feels that there are better, more affordable solutions. “The issue with KnowRoaming is that incoming calls aren’t free,” she says. “Their data pricing is good, but extra costs when people call you is a big negative.” Stone thinks that travel SIM cards such as Toggle — a replacement SIM that gives you free incoming calls and a local number in the country you’re in — are a much better deal.
But for those prone to losing their stuff — be it their mind or their wallet — this might be an easier option.