If you think most mobile operators are fleecing you with ridiculously high roaming tariffs, this post is for you. The good news is there are quite a few options now. Here’s a quick summary:
- Matrix and Clay, both provide country specific SIM cards. The obvious advantage is that you get a local number for the country you plan to travel to. The offerings are quite similar and more or less equally priced. However, both do not provide tariff details on their web site and you have to call them instead. The customer service rep than transfers you to a sales rep who in turn promises to get back with tariff details. C’mon folks, this is 2010! They also provide data services (GPRS and/or Blackberry) for some countries but that seems to be quite expensive ($ 4 per MB in case of Matrix).
- Airtel WorldSim: Airtel offers a global SIM that works in many countries. The advantage is that you don’t have to change SIM when you are traveling to multiple countries. Your Indian Airtel number is mapped on to forward calls to this SIM. So your folks in India can dial a local number to reach you. The negatives are that this is more expensive (per call charges as well as initial SIM card charges) than other alternatives (although less expensive than normal roaming). Also, you will need to have an Airtel connection before you can opt for this service. Since it is a single SIM that works everywhere, you get just one number (a UK number). That is probably good if you are traveling to UK but may not be a good option if you are traveling elsewhere. No GPRS/data services.
- Reliance Passport World SIM: This is the cheapest option. Like Airtel, you get one global SIM that works everywhere. But you can’t forward calls from your India number. This also gives you one UK number and so the same issue that applies to Airtel applies here as well. Another big disadvantage is that it works on call back mechanism – which means when you dial a number, the service connects that number, calls you back and bridges you. Not sure if that’s convenient! Even though the web site says they provide data services (GPRS), they don’t.
- You could of course stick with standard roaming facilities provided by your cell phone provider. That’s possibly the most convenient option if you are okay to pay that much.
- Finally, you could buy Skype credit and use that or buy a SIM card locally.
So what’s been your experience with these? Is there anything else that i’ve missed out?