Yeah, I know, sounds ludicrous, and all that. I can’t vouch for this working (which is to say I haven’t tested it), but it should be workable.
Over the weekend, UK Telco Three announced it had lined up a bunch of countries for what it’s calling “Feel At Home”. It’s a global roaming initiative that works in Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Italy, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden and Australia.
At first, I thought it was interesting (in a passing way) given that it’s joining companies such as Optus and Vodafone in offering its customers an inexpensive way to roam, although unlike the Aussie carriers Three isn’t charging any extra at all for its roaming proposition, and it’s open to all of its customers, pre and post-paid alike. Three’s roaming pages suggests it roams to both Optus and Vodafone networks in Australia.
A quick aside; Three has the same branding as the company that operated here under the Three banner that was eventually subsumed into Vodafone, but they’re different companies — indeed, in the UK, they’re competitors.
So what’s that got to do with $26 SIMs, I hear you ask?
I then remembered the other thing that Three UK does, and that’s unlimited data plans. The cheapest I could find was a scant £15 per month on a pay as you go basis, or around $26 at current exchange rates. You get 300 minutes of calls and 3000 texts, as well as what’s called “all-you-can-eat” data. Three’s customer terms and conditions do suggest that
We may publish an acceptable use policy and a traffic management policy which provide more details about
the rules for use of certain Three Services in order to ensure that use of Three Services is not excessive, to
combat fraud and where Three Services we offer or may introduce require certain rules to ensure they can
be enjoyed by our customers.
But I couldn’t find evidence of this on their site. You’d still have to meet the rules and criteria for getting a UK SIM (which I believe means having a UK residential address), so this is perhaps of most use to expats or those with UK relatives.
PAYG would seem to be sensible; I strongly suspect that if you used it extensively, Three would cut you off quick smart, so minimum exposure would be wise, especially as, just like anyone using Netflix in Australia, you’re going to be breaking some of the terms and conditions of Three’s contract for any kind of long-term use.
It’s at the very least an interesting thought exercise — which is to say I haven’t tested this out yet myself — as well as a pleasing sign that carriers worldwide are starting to pay attention to the fact that consumers are growing ever more wise to the roaming rort prices that used to be the norm. It also makes me wonder; if Three can offer unlimited data while in Australia using somebody else’s network, why can’t we get that right here at home?