Avid travelers may have a new device to put on their holiday wish lists. International mobile data provider Voiamo has just unveiled a new product that could offer travelers a cheaper way to use Internet services and dodge roaming charges from wireless carriers. Voiamo, dubbed as the “roaming replacement,” revealed its Globalgig Mobile Hotspot device on Thursday. This gadget will allow users to instantly log on to a local network in any market through their smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Subscribers also have the option of using Globalgig’s Mobile Hotspot for up to five mobile devices at one time. There is a catch, though: LTE isn’t yet supported and the service is only launching in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia for now.
Voiamo boasts that Globalgig patrons will be able to access Internet speeds of up to 7.2Mbps (Megabits per second) at “a fraction of normal roaming costs.” Pricing for its international data packages breaks down monthly as follows: 1GB for $25, 3GB for $39 and 5GB for $49. According to Voiamo, when these gigabytes are broken down into megabytes, the price equates to less than a penny per megabyte. Carriers, according to Voiamo, can charge around $20 per megabyte: an unfortunate reality that dawned upon CNet’s Eric Mack recently.
“Much to the contrary, in fact, calls home could cost me as much as $2.89 per minute; texts are 50 cents each…and if I manage the patience for Quito’s 1X CDMA wireless data network, Verizon will reward me by charging up to $20.48 per megabyte,” Mack wrote.
As a point of comparison, the cheapest bracket in AT&T’s roaming data package (which does not include text and voice) costs $30 per month for 120MB of wireless data. The most expensive plan runs users $120 per month for 800MB of data, which equals about 0.78 of a gigabyte.
“It’s time to bring an end to the rip-off data bills that business people face upon their return from traveling abroad,” Nigel Bramwell, CEO of Voiamo, said in a written statement. “Our simple GlobalGig Hotspot device brings fast, secure, carrier grade Internet access through local networks.”
Additionally, Juniper Research forecasts that mobile data roaming revenues will increase by 21 percent between 2012 and 2017 and may reach a whopping $35 billion by 2017. As Bramwell acknowledged in Voiamo’s statement, some travelers will purchase local SIM cards to evade roaming charges or are forced to ration their mobile data usage under a carrier’s plan.
“Globalgig cuts out all this hassle and enables international travelers to keep their SIM card in the phone and remain in full contact with their family, friends, customers colleagues and suppliers, while at the same time having high speed Internet access,” he said.
Globalgig is initially launching in the U.S., UK, and Australia before spreading to key Asian and European markets over the next 12 months. There are also talks at Voiamo about launching a voice service in late 2013. The Globalgig is now available for purchase at globalgig.com