Canadian cellular subscribers fed up with high international data roaming fees have another choice for potentially saving money.
A British-based startup called Globalgig says it can save travelers to the U.S., Britain and Australia money if they subscribe to its service, which is said to run less than a penny a megabyte.
The catch is users have to buy a US$119 hotspot, which connects to mobile devices via Wi-Fi after grabbing a local CDMA or GSM 3G cellular network.
According to Nigel Bramwell, CEO of Globalgig’s parent company, Voiamo, data agreements with local carriers turn Globalgig into a mobile virtual network operator. As a result, travelers are effectively local subscribers rather than international roamers, which enables his company to offer lower data rates.
For example, Globalgig charges US$25 a month for 1 GB of data, $39 a month for 3 GB of data and $49 for 5 GB. By comparison, Telus charges $5 a megabyte for data roaming in the U.S. (or $25 for 5 MB of data).
Subscribers sign up online and have the hotspot activated when they receive it in the mail or by courier. Subscribers don’t sign a contract, so can cancel service with 48 hours notice and reactivate when needed. The hotspot doesn’t need a SIM card.
Asked about the cost of the hotspot, Bramwell said that “in terms of the overall saving the upfront cost of $119 for a device they can use again and again is probably fairly low.”
And the data itself is cheap, he added.
Globalgig’s core audience is business travelers, he said. In fact, he added, up to five devices can connect to a hotspot at a time, making it ideal for teams. Bramwell also said he’s willing to negotiate special pricing for large corporate users.
Globalgig subscribers can use the monthly capacity data in any country: So, if have a 3 GB plan and you’re travelling in January for one week to the U.S. and one week to Britain, you can use up to 3 GB in both countries.
In the U.S., Globalgig’s agreement is with Sprint Nextel.