My last few weeks have been spent in China, Korea and Japan. I’ve been roaming with my cellphone, with my data connection turned off. The question is for how long?
It’s interesting to note that in both China and Korea, you can roam, with unlimited data for about RM36/day (USD$12). This is common in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong and several other countries that have roaming agreements.
I landed in Korea and the first thing I heard? The familiar sound of Whatsapp. I’m sitting here now in Haneda, and it’s again the familiar sound of Whatsapp.
The way I see it, roaming data is becoming more affordable. It can only get cheaper.
Why is this big? The way Blackberry Messenger (BBM) has disrupted SMS amongst blackberry users is what I see Whatsapp doing as long as you have data.
Applications like Yes Life which gives you a real 018-number, and does SMS and work entirely over data? Brilliant, especially if you plan to send more than 36 SMS messages per day, or even want to entertain phone calls. Imagine forwarding your regular number not to voicemail, but to your 018 number. You pay a flat rate for data, and you enjoy really cheap call rates. Similar deals with pfingo (Singapore), PennyTel (Australia/Malaysia), and so on.
With data, you can also run Skype. That also does cheap calls and SMS messaging. Incoming calls work too via a real number, though there is no option to grab a Malaysian number.
Apps for mapping and navigation on iOS and Android? They will flourish with on-net connections, meaning there is little reason to cache.
Walking around Japan, we had a mifi, with an amazing battery life. Three connections, on-net, 6 hours! And it was close to 20mbps down, on a mifi!
I see lots of roaming companies (Flexiroam, for example) saying they provide foreign SIMs for cheap. I’d rather just always have a data connection, unlimited, for a flat rate anywhere I go. And a configured mifi. Maybe an extra portable battery pack ;)