Data roaming in around the world is stupid expensive. On a recent trip to the States I turned on mobile roaming only a few times to quickly check Google Maps or to hop on and off Whatsapp, and boom – I get a text message from my Finnish carrier telling me that I’ve hit €60 in roaming fees already.
I’m not the first person to get this “really guys?” feeling, as seen by the rise of mobile hotspot hacks like Finland’s Goodspeed, Finland’s Ukko Mobile, Sweden’s Holliday Phone, and Latvia’s Roamer App. These roaming devices generally hold a number of country-specific SIM Cards for you to take on the road, with the exception of Roamer App, which was focusing on calls and sends you a new SIM Card while forwarding your old number.
Managing all these SIM Cards sounds like a pain, and a new Danish startup now up on Kickstarter thinks they’ve found a way around it. Called Anqor, when traveling the device figures out where you are and searches its database for a local sim card which it boots up into the system. You can then hop online with what they say is the best available data network for you area.
For this accessibility Anqor charges £32 (€40) for a monthly subscription including 2GB of data, which you can apparently pause whenever you want. The Early Bird price on Kickstarter for the device itself is running £140 (€176), with the price of £200 (€250) quoted on the website.
EU roaming is getting cheap, thanks to new regulations that started on the 1st of July that set the maximum roaming fee to €0.20 per megabyte. Anqor includes most EU countries at launch, with Australia, Brazil, Malaysia, Turkey and the United States as other supported countries. Up next, these will be followed by Canada, China, major Middle East countries, India and Russia, among others.
The team behind Anqor have good Nokia and Ericsson roots, and they’ve managed to put out nice looking device slightly larger than their competitors (about the size of two mobile phones). In their first day they’ve managed to raise over £6,000 of their ambitious £250,000 goal.
By spoofing these SIM cards without having to open up your device for every country you travel to, Anqor seems like the next generation of roaming hotspots. I’m not sure what the needs or price-points are for enterprise customers or the jet-setting class, but it will be interesting to see how Anqor does on Kickstarter and the market.