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The mobile data roaming... scam?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Jun-2008 13:25

Ok, perhaps scam is too strong a word to use, but it really feels like a ripoff these days. I am about to spend next week attending the AMD Tech Day in Austin, TX and as usual I start looking for options to keep up with e-mails, IM and maps on my smartphone while overseas.

Until recently U.S. operators didn't offer an mobile data plan on prepay - forcing us to use the super very heavily expensive data roaming options from both Vodafone and Telecom New Zealand if a cheaper option such as Wi-Fi wasn't available.

Just so that you have an idea, Vodafone charges $10 per megabyte you use while in the U.S. if you are connected through AT&T or $30 per megabyte if connected to T-Mobile. Telecom New Zealand charges $12 per megabyte.

This is an absurd amount of money per megabyte and simply makes it almost impossibe for small companies to use mobile data as an effective business tool while overseas.

At last now you can get a data plan on prepay through AT&T. For US$19.99 a month you can buy the "MEdiaNet Unlimited" pack and even have it charged to your prepay balance. This is a 30-day unlimited Internet access through EDGE or 3G to their data services.

A couple of years ago I was attending the CES in Las Vegas and arrived in the city about 11pm. Not having Internet on the apartments and not wanting to go out hunting for Wi-Fi I used my (then) Vodafone SIM to access e-mai. That evening cost me about $600. Next morning I found out th McDonald's downstairs had Wi-Fi at US$1.95 per hour.

New Zealand companies would have to be dumb to give money away to mobile operators when a local SIM card option is available with unlimited data.

At least locally the operators are moving to a more acceptable price plan, with the latest Vodafone casual data rate and Telecom's free data with certain mobile handsets.

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Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I'm the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums. Also worth visiting is TravelTalk NZ, a community for travelers!

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