This post was published in April 2011, so the information in the post or about me in the sidebar may no longer be correct.

A long way from home

Last week, Tom wrote about how fairly new online services are affecting the way we communicate overseas. He’s right, of course. To me, the most interesting part is his third sentence:

For instance, it seems completely unreasonable that it should cost 10-20 pence for someone in the UK to send an SMS message’s amount of data to me in the US—of course negating the outlandish prices that are charged for SMS messages already.

The days of mobile operators being able to charge us way over the odds for communicating internationally are long gone. My two week holiday in South Africa is just coming to an end, so this is pretty timely: I’ve used about 400MB of mobile data this trip, which O2 would have liked to charge me something in the region of £2,400 for. Instead, I bought a local SIM card, put it in my unlocked iPhone and spent just under £20.

On previous holidays I might’ve sent a dozen text messages to keep up with friends, which would have cost something like £5. Indeed, my monthly bill during a trip to the US a while back was about double the usual figure. This holiday, I sent zero text messages. In fact, barely anybody has my South African phone number.

The difference, though, is that I did send 21 direct messages on Twitter and nine (slightly longer) messages on Facebook. And seven emails.

And the amount O2 are going to be billing me for roaming this month? £0. I can only imagine mobile companies are losing–or are going to be losing–a hell of a lot of revenue from lost international charges.


By Kevin Spencer on 07 April 2011 at 18:53:

Yeah every month I see the extra fees tacked on to my AT&T account for the texts I send from the US to England. It’s 25 cents a text. Adds up quite quickly.

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