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How to beat international roaming charges

Posted by on Aug 2, 2011 in HR Issues, Moneyville | 0 comments

By Sheryl Smolkin

Read this article and comments at Moneyville.ca 

Over the past few months I have been looking for the cheapest possible access to data on my Blackberry for a two week trip to France and Spain planned for September.

As I have confessed, I’m a crackberry addict. When I travel, I read/write emails and text messages, access news articles, post to Facebook and upload a travel blog daily from my smartphone.

And now that I have a PlayBook which operates using a bridge browser to my BlackBerry when Wifi is not available, I can easily blow through 500 megabytes (MB) of data or more in a couple of weeks.

First I checked out Rogers’ international data travel packs. The best I can get is a one-time fee of $225 for 75 MB and $3/MB if I go over the limit. Considering I exceeded my 500 MB limit when I went to the cottage in Muskoka for a week in June, this “deal” could end up costing $1,500 or more.

I purchased my BlackBerry outright, so it is unlocked. Internet searches initially led me to believe that European SIM cards can be purchased only on arrival, and on contract, as opposed to a pay-as-you-go basis.

Then I found the Pass Europe. At $29.00 plus $4.50/day I thought I had a winner. But upon reading the small print, I discovered monthly data is also capped at 75 MB of use and I would be charged $5/MB above the max or $2,217 in total for 500 MB over 14 days.

So I was very pleased when Toronto Star columnist and fellow blogger Ellen Roseman forwarded a press release to me from OneSimCard .

I was able to order a $200 prepaid card by mail that comes with an international mobile telephone number.  However, if I use my BlackBerry only for data, at $1/MB I have a starting balance of 200 MB. When I run out, the card will stop working and I can add more value directly from my phone or by logging into an online account and charging to my credit card.

Now $500 for 500 MB  of data is a lot cheaper than $1,500 (Rogers) or $2,217 (Pass Europe), but it’s still pretty steep. To minimize the amount of data I use, I plan to download books to the Kobo reader on my PlayBook before I leave and try to restrict BlackBerry usage to Wifi hotspots when I’m away.

But if my addiction overcomes me on a long bus ride, I’m relieved that I can keep on typing without any nasty surprises on my next Rogers bill. I also plan to look for a new carrier when my contract finally comes up for renewal in October, with a lower cost package both for regular use and for future global travel.


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