On a recent trip to Frankfurt, Oslo & Singapore, rather than trying to buy local pre-paid SIM cards and working out what might be the best provider & pre-paid plan for each region, I thought my wife and I would try out KnowRoaming.
I was first made aware of KnowRoaming last year, and signed up for their public access wait list. Once it was publicly launched however I had no immediate use for it and promptly forgot until about 3 weeks before my trip. I ordered a Couples Package (2 KnowRoaming SIM stickers, including applicators). I was heading overseas in less than 3 weeks from when I ordered, and the site warns that it can take up to 3 weeks for the stickers to arrive (I don’t trust AusPost) I emailed their support to see if there was anyway to expedite the shipping. There was, and after paying for the additional express postage costs, the stickers were on their way. They arrived in a couple of days.
The application of the SIM sticker is as easy as the marketing & video examples make it out to be. The applicator is well designed, making it hard to get wrong.
Once the SIM sticker was installed, getting up and running was as simple as firing up the KnowRoaming app on my iPhone and following the steps. Each KnowRoaming account includes two “global” numbers that you can be reached on, a US one and a UK one. The UK one is, by default, the number needed to send and receive sms (text) messages, so this was the one I gave out to most people that needed to contact me.
I also signed up for the “ReachMe” service, which provisions a number in your home country and automatically configures call forwarding of your home number to that “ReachMe” number. This was the one thing that didn’t work for me, at no fault of KnowRoaming. The number that KnowRoaming provisioned worked perfectly (tested from another VoIP account & my wife’s mobile) but for some reason call forwarding wouldn’t work with my telco.
The rest of KnowRoaming worked flawlessly after some initial issues when I arrived in Singapore. I was able to get on the network, make calls & send text, but was unable to activate the data pack I purchased. This turned out to be a backend issue that KnowRoaming support were able to address very quickly. I did have to turn to support a number of times during the trip, each time the ticket was answered within 15 minutes and the problem solved quickly after. The support staff (via email) were knowledgeable and it in no-way felt like the usual less-than-great support experience at your local telco.
Unfortunately there was an issue with the partner network in Norway that meant that data (3G or otherwise) was unavailable for the week we were there. This was a bummer, but not the end of the world as pretty much everywhere in Oslo has free wifi. Once it was resolved, KnowRoaming pro-actively reached out to let us know that service was restored, we just needed to perform a configuration change and reboot the phone for access to data.
The “unlimited” per-day data plans were useful, especially being able to activate a plan in Frankfurt and have the plan continue while in Norway (in-theory). The per-day charge does seem a little expensive for a longer trip, it would be nice if an alternative per-GB plan was available, or bulk discounts for longer periods. Depending on where you’re going it might be cheaper to look at services like GlobalGig, not having to keep a dongle charged and running is certainly convenient. I also found that tethering worked in some countries (Norway & Germany) but not others (Singapore), I can only assume this is a per-network limitation or a limitation of the roaming agreement.
That said, for somewhere like Singapore the $7.99 per day is far cheaper and easier than GlobalGig’s $50 for 1GB.
Overall I was very happy with the product, it delivered it’s promises & the customer service from KnowRoaming was excellent. It made it very easy to keep in contact with others regardless of the country we were and without costing a fortune in roaming fees. I’ll be using it again on my next trip overseas.
Update: KnowRoaming just announced a referral program. So if you want 30% off your SIM Sticker purchase, $5 in credit & grant me $5 in credit, just follow this link then use my referral code
THOJAM754 when you place the order, thanks :)