Rating: Our efforts in Barcelona pretty successful, though
Well, regular GoMo News readers will be more than familiar with the concept of ‘bill shock’ which occurs after having roamed abroad with a smartphone/tablet device. Presently, the biggest shock worry derives from data charges rather than text/SMS or voice call charges. The reason behind this being that it is not always so simple to turn data roaming off – especially when you have set up a mobile device to download your emails and then travel abroad. As GoMo News discovered from our recent trip to Barcelona to attend MWC 2013, even the best laid plans of mice and men can still lead to bill shock.
Our first precaution to keep costs down whilst visiting Barcelona was to a source a SIM card from Orange Spain via the internet (actually from eBay).
One thing you need to be aware of is that you must supply personal details to any Spanish operator – even if the SIM is prepaid.
The big mistake we made before leaving for Barcelona, however, was failing to discover how to top up the card when the credit had run out.
It turns out that you do exactly the same thing as when at home – walk into your nearest corner shop and hand over hard cash to top up.
Using a local SIM has several advantages. One of which is that you personally don’t have to pay charges to receive calls – especially if you publicise your ‘roaming’ telephone number via your home network voicemail message.
The second advantage – we hoped, was that it wouldn’t cost extra to receive text messages if we provided a Spanish telephone number to the GSMA (which organises the MWC shows) in order to receive show updates.
This didn’t work because even though even though we changed our personal details to reflect our new mobile number on the MWC web site, the GSMA still sent them to our UK telephone number.
We turned this service off by sending the usual STOP message but the GSMA’s system still sent us another costly text by confirming the cessation.
Today [March 7th 2013] Orange UK’s online systems were once gain in complete disarray when we tried to access our account online to check on our Spanish expenditure.
We couldn’t log on to our online account (because we have opted out of paper bills) and have been told it will probably take around 72 hours to fix this problem.
Boy are we sad we haven’t encountered a Finnish company called Uros before. The company markets a physical device called the Goodspeed.
Basically, the device provides a personal Wi-fi hotspot whilst looking like an iPhone. The best bit is that it accepts up to ten different SIMs.
Why? Simple, because you tell Uros which European country you intend to visit and they send you an appropriate SIM card. Then you pay a specific amount per day for your data usage.
Across most of Western Europe (and they only have 12 countries at present), you normally pay just €5.90 per day.
Curiously in France you have to pay €16.90 per day. And Uros didn’t have Spain covered when we were in Barcelona, anyway.
Bizarrely, the Goodspeed is good news for mobile network operators because at least they can charge Uros for using their mobile data networks.
Otherwise, seasoned travellers like GoMo News merely turn data roaming off and use Wi-fi instead.
Incidentally, whilst we were in Barcelona, Syniverse estimated that roamers spend $17 billion on alternative connectivity per annum rather than roam.
This figure breaks down to $8.7 billion on hotel Wi-fi; $3.9 billion on other Wi-fi; $4.8 bllion on local SIMs (like us); and $225 million on in-flight Wi-fi.
So mobile operators missed out on around €1.2 billion. Oh, dear.