The last few weeks have seen me bouncing around Europe as I cover various bits and pieces for the Eurovision Song Contest. Running a regular podcast on that subject means that I had lots of content to post, and with the events, lots of news and social media to interact with.
Which is why my first job on landing at an airport has been to find a local SIM card for my smartphone.
Yes there are some cute options for roaming data, but let’s take Armenia as example. Using my Orange UK SIM card while in the capital city of Yerevan I could roam at £5.50 per megabyte. In the local currency that’s just shy of 4000 dram a megabyte. Or I could walk into the high street store, show my passport, and walk out with a local SIM that would charge just 5 dram a megabyte.
One of these options is going to be for “a real emergency” while another will allow me to stay connected, to reply to Twitter messages, to keep up to data on Facebook, post to my blog, moderate comments…
…and let me upload my podcasts.
Yes, there’s every chance that I can find some wi-fi or use a hotel lobby, but that’s never guaranteed, and in any case it’s still cheaper to go with a local mobile number and the data charge than it is to pay for twenty four hours of hotel wi-fi. The rise of international SIM services can help, but these are still mostly geared to voice, and not data. Those that are can rarely compete with local prices.
If all goes to plan, I’ll be bouncing round Europe for the next three months, and in my bag will be a little collection of SIM cards, each with enough credit for a weekend of “unlimited” browsing on my mobile phone (which doubles as a hotspot). It’s all well and good being able to get stories, but it’s even more important to know you can get them onto the web without relying on anyone else or breaking the bank. Because if you have a great post about a tree falling in the woods that you can’t get online, then did the tree even fall?