Data roaming while overseas has always been a sore point for Aussie travellers. Charges have traditionally been astronomical, and usually hard to understand without reading tons of fine print. Things are starting to get better, with one example being Vodafone's $5 per day Roaming feature for those on the network, which is fine for trips taking a couple of days. Dedicated data players such as Globalgig offer better than usual rates if you want to use data in a foreign land, especially on long stays.
As such, our focus for this feature is on Globalgig, and how its data rates compare to the established trio of Vodafone, Telstra, and Optus.
Read more in depth Telstra stories
One SIM for almost any country
Mobile data provider, Globalgig, now has high-speed, 4G plans available for use in Australia and the UK, and has expanded its regular 3G coverage to more places around the globe (up to 84 countries). It's a service that's useful if you're a traveller who wants a no-fuss mobile data plan that can be used seamlessly, without having to look for plans and change SIMs when you land in a different country.
The company offers month-to-month plans on a no-contract basis (see below for details), and you can buy one tri-SIM that can be adapted to your device, whether it uses a nano, micro, or full-sized SIM. SIM cards for different plans can be purchased from retail outlets such as Big W, Coles, Dick Smith, and many more, but before you can use the service, you need to activate the SIM on Globalgig's Web site.
The Web site is the weakest link in the company's offering. It's not possible to just log in to view your data consumption, or to change plans. Instead, Globalgig emails you when you have reached certain milestones in your data usage: 50 per cent, 85 per cent, and 100 per cent.
If you want to do things such as change plans or change your payment details, you have to call up a customer service representative. It's annoying to have to do that, rather than making the changes yourself through a Web interface, but when we tested the service, the call staff were helpful and completed our requests quickly. Globalgig told us that changes to the site are coming, with more self-service features to be added.
It's important to note that Globalgig's plans are purely for mobile data; you can't use these plans for voice calls. This puts Globalgig at a disadvantage if you want to also use your smartphone for calls and messages while overseas, meaning you will still need to make arrangements for calls, either by roaming or getting a local number. Globalgig is best suited to those of you who want to take a second, unlocked device overseas with you, with the intention of using data for accessing maps, social media, and basic Web browsing. You can then 'hotspot' that data to another device, too.
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