[caption id="attachment_600" align="aligncenter" width="522" caption="The Abroadband SIM pack in all its orange-y glory"][/caption] The cost of data when roaming overseas has long been a sticking point so I was excited to hear about Abroadband (run by Telecom Austria) from Ewan at Mobile Industry Review. The proposition is dead simple: €0.59 per megabyte in 55 countries including complete coverage of Europe and North America. That's about half what the cheapest UK operators will charge for European roaming and far less for some of the more distant destinations.
Obviously it's still not as cheap as buying a local SIM, but this is a better, more flexible, fit for me - a more affordable way to make short visits to places where I wouldn't normally have the time (or want the hassle) of buying a new SIM every time. And after the problems I had understanding tarrifs and getting my Vodafone Spain SIM cards working in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress this is looking extra appealing. Tru's SIM data rates also beat this in the US, UK and Australia, but I find Abroadband's wider coverage far more useful as my short-visit travel is all in Europe.
Purchasing the Abroadband SIM was quick and easy - it arrived by courier a few days later and I stuck it in the Zoom MiFi that I'm trialling (it's not network locked) this afternoon. Activation was easy once the MiFi had found a network and I'd typed the Abroadband connection details into it (usefully the Zoom comes pre-configured with a load of networks' data settings, but sadly not Abroadband's which is too new to the market).
[caption id="attachment_601" align="aligncenter" width="522" caption="Abroadband registration was dead easy"][/caption]
The activation process works like a coffee shop hotspot, intercepting your initial web connection when you first use the Abroadband SIM. There are 3 simple registration steps which I zapped through very quickly, including adding payment details. I opted to provide a credit card (I have one that operates in Euros - get me) but PayPal also works (but beware of their less than generous exchange rates). Now Abroadband will bill me for my actual usage (up to €60 per month when they send a warning SMS) and there's no regular line rental to pay.
So far so good - I head to France tomorrow to give it a proper test. It's probably still a bit too pricey for use with a laptop (other than the lightest email) but it's going to be a lifesaver with a MiFi sharing the data to my smartphones.