KnowRoaming, Toronto-based makers of a SIM sticker that provides instant access to local networks in dozens of countries, has rolled out a new, thinner sticker and new rates, including unlimited data in 55 countries.
Over the last few months, the company has fulfilled orders for its Kickstarter backers and thousands of customers from English-speaking countries around the world looking to ease the process of roaming.
“We want to stop bill shock,” said CEO Gregory Gundelfinger, noting that most people don’t quite understand how much cheaper it is to purchase a local SIM once they arrive at their destination. The problem, he says, is that in many countries it is difficult to obtain such a prepaid SIM; places like China, India, South Africa and the UAE, among others, require visitors to show identification for tracking purposes.
KnowRoaming gets around this problem by affixing a thin sticker to your existing SIM card, using its pins to circumvent your own carrier in favour of deals it’s made with hundreds of network providers around the world. This leads to roaming prices that are up to 80% less than pay-per-use costs from one’s home carrier. Now, with its new offering, KnowRoaming seeks to nullify existing criticisms that its data prices are too expensive: today, it is launching unlimited data bundles for $7.99 per day in 55 countries, including popular destinations like the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa and more.
It’s no coincidence that the price is identical to Rogers’ own $7.99/50MB per day bundle it offers to customers travelling to the US. While the service is currently 3G-only (Rogers offers LTE roaming in the States), Gundelfinger believes most customers will still choose KnowRoaming’s bundle over Rogers’ own.
In addition to a sticker that is considerably thinner — no more getting one’s SIM card stuck in thin “cages” like those found in newer BlackBerry devices — Gundelfinger says this public release focuses on improving the customer experience. The iPhone and Android apps have been extensively redesigned to make it easier to add funds to an account, set up a roaming package, configure the appropriate APN, and set a Reach Me number.
Reach Me numbers are another important aspect of KnowRoaming’s value proposition. Using a complicated string of forwarding and local numbers, the service makes it appear that outgoing calls are coming from the customer’s own number. This means that, like using one’s regular SIM overseas, calls home look like they’re coming from you, not some random recycled number no one will recognize.
At the same time, KnowRoaming provides free local numbers to customers travelling to the US and the UK, making it possible to be reached without locals calling a long distance number. Gundelfinger notes that one’s call display number can be configured to a local number, too, so instead of someone seeing your local Canadian number they’ll see your US or UK number. Additional phone numbers can be purchased in other countries, too, for a small monthly fee.
The sticker is smarter, too: it, like a smartphone or tablet, can be remotely updated with new features, so software-based improvements will come behind the scenes going forward.
Finally, KnowRoaming is launching an enterprise portal for companies that want to purchase and control multiple SIM stickers at once. With an increasing number of large corporations sending employees abroad — and paying a fortune for their roaming packages — KnowRoaming knew it had a captive audience.
With its public release, KnowRoaming has one final trick up its sleeve: long distance calling. While using the SIM sticker in a foreign country requires an unlocked phone, for obvious reasons (it’s acting as a second SIM), discount long distance uses your local number and call forwarding to achieve lower-cost calls.
The way it works is not remarkable, since it’s been done a million times before, but it’s seamless: when long distance is set up, it invisibly calls a local number first, which then routes your call through to the intended overseas recipient. While this does end up using local minutes (if that still applies to your plan), it costs considerably less than making a per-use long-distance call without an intermediary.
The new KnowRoaming stickers are shipping today for $29.99 USD and come with a free SIM applicator kit (and links to explainer videos), along with $15 in usage credits.