Image: Hugh Threlfall
June 08 2013
You know the way How To Spend It works by now. We’re not interested in bargains; we just focus on the best. So I found myself in a slight bind when I discovered possibly the best bargain ever. However, I can’t think of anyone who would not appreciate getting a useful commodity that normally costs between £30,000 and £60,000 for £29. Yes, that’s a saving of between 99.9 and 99.99 per cent. And I’m talking potential per-month savings – which, if you have a company, could be multiplied many times.
This modest item is a standard Chinese-designed portable hotspot that takes a 3G or 4G phone signal and makes it accessible by WiFi to nearby devices. So far, so familiar. What is extraordinary, though, is the sim inside, from a new British company called Globalgig, which is setting up deals with providers across the world for data roaming at hilariously low prices – from £10 a month for 1Gb of data to £29 a month for an elephantine 10Gb. With roaming data costing £3 to £6 per Mb (and there being 1,000Mb in a Gb) you can see how the savings, for individuals and companies, are simply absurd. And it works. I’ve tried it. From a fiscal point of view, if not technically, it’s sensational. Few of us need 10Gb of data roaming on a trip, but to clock up 1Gb and a bill in the thousands is commonly done.
Globalgig works in the UK, US, Australia, Hong Kong, Denmark, Sweden and Ireland, with more countries coming on stream soon. A 4G version is also planned. You can’t take a Globalgig sim out of the hotspot and use it for voice calls, but you can use it to Skype via the hotspot from your phone – and thereby save yet more cash. Are there downsides? Maybe. Globalgig says I’ve been unlucky, but I’m not convinced the data you get is the fastest. In the US, I couldn’t get 3G on the Globalgig at more than 1.2Mbps. This isn’t great, but it’s enough to support reasonable internet use and Skype. It may also be more a reflection of the US’s awful phone networks; in the UK, though, I haven’t seen better than 4Mbps. An incredible product, nonetheless.