The walls around global roaming costs continue to tumble down, with a new data roaming service available to travellers offering data at 81c/MB in more than 50 countries.
The only catch? The SIM cards can only be delivered to European addresses at present, so it'll only be suitable for Australian travellers starting their trip in Europe, or who have a friend or relative that can on-forward the SIM to them. A European mail forwarding service such as Bongo may also be useful in buying an Abroadband SIM card from Australia.
The service, called Abroadband, provides data-only SIM cards, providing internet access for phones, 3G modems and iPads/tablets.
Abroadband's rates of €0.59 per MB (A$0.81) are 92% cheaper than Vodafone's normal global roaming rates, 95% cheaper than Telstra's, and 96% cheaper than Optus'.
A standard size SIM card, or micro SIM for iPhone 4 and iPads, costs €9.90 (A$13.60) to buy.
For travellers who don't yet have a 3G laptop modem, Abroadband sells a SIM card and modem combo for €49.90 (A$68.53).
Shipping via regular mail costs €9.90 (A$13.60) to any destination in Europe, or via 48 hour DHL express courier it's €19.90 (A$27.33).
The service provides cheap data roaming in 55 countries: Albania, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, USA.
While it's still expensive compared to buying local SIM cards, which typically provide data for around 3-5c/MB, it's a great option for travellers already shelling out $10-$20 per MB for data roaming through their Australian telco, and who want the convenience of one SIM card that they can use across many different countries without having to change phone settings in each country.
Abroadband is a postpaid service, so after you buy the SIM card, you will receive bills for the amount owing. There's a webpage where you can monitor your spend, and Abroadband will also contact you when you hit €60 (A$82) in spending.
The ABroadband service is provided by the A1 Telekom Austria, an Austrian mobile network with 5.1 million subscribers.
How it compares to other global roaming services
For people who go to the UK and USA, Tru SIM is still a much better offer, at 17c and 35c/MB respectively (with the advantage that you can also make and receive cheap calls on the SIM).
For people only travelling in Europe, Droam is also still much better value for data, at €0.065c/MB ($A0.08) for the first gigabyte of data, and €0.045c/MB ($A0.06) for subsequent gigabytes.
If you're after a SIM card that does cheap phone calls and relatively cheap data across Europe, the MaxRoam SIM is not much more expensive, at €0.70/MB (A$0.96) for data.
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