The problem that HolidayPhone is tackling is a familiar one: the cost of phone calls, sms and mobile internet while traveling abroad. In a short span of 6 years, we have become accustomed to always being next to our trusted mobile phones. Most of us are constantly online, so when we are forced to pay outrageous bills for phone calls and internet abroad, we rage. This results in great startups that try to disrupt the space.
Indeed, many companies from the region have set their sights onto solving this problem or parts of it. Ukko Mobile is creating a single data-only sim card that would work in the whole of Europe, Rebtel is solving the problem of expensive calls through VOIP and Goodspeed created a device to enable flat-data fees in countries where you travel to.
What sets HolidayPhone apart is the fact that they solve both the phone calls problem and also the mobile data problem. Moreover, their pricing is quite cheap since they basically issue local sim cards and the ship them to either your home address or your travel destination address. This makes sure that the local phone calls and internet are very cheap, but their technology also makes sure that all incoming calls to your original phone number get forwarded at affordable prices. Outgoing calls back home are also comparatively cheap.
To order the card, you simply tell them which country you are going to and where you have your original phone number, they will then send you the local sim-card. The delivery takes about 6-12 days, so you need to plan in advance. Alternatively you can order speed delivery for about $20 more that will arrive within 3 working days.
They have announced earlier this month that they can offer their service in 27 popular tourist destinations with USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Finland having a full range of services. To do so, they partner up with mobile network operators as well as travel agencies.
According to Joacim Boivie, the CEO of HolidayPhone “it’s been a successful year and [they] are noticing an increased interest for [their] services across all our markets. There are two key factors supporting the business idea: people are becoming more mobile, traveling more often, and at the same time cell phone usage is increasing, and people want to use voice, text and mobile Internet wherever they are.”
This is an interesting concept and the quick expansion is definitely a good sign. However there are still some concerns that people we have spoken to raised. There is the hassle of having to change sim-cards in every country you go to, so if you are a hardcore business traveler, this might be a concern and would force you to think of this solution as you would of a hack. However if you are going on a two week holiday to Thailand, it is perfect.
You can also get local sim-cards wherever you go, but often they are still quite expensive and forwarding the call to them from your original number would make the call very expensive for the caller.
So until somebody comes up with a way to create a single SIM card that would provide cheap, flat-fee, phone calls and internet that would work worldwide, this seems like a great alternative.