Sure, nothing compares to a local SIM card with a data plan, however if you are abroad it can happen that it's either impossible to get a prepaid SIM with a data plan or for the time of visiting a foreign country, it doesn't makes sense to buy one at all - for instance because it's just a stop-over to get a connecting flight. And while EU citizens are now protected by EU's 50 Euro bill shock protection, it's not applicable for the use of international data roaming outside the area of the European Union, for instance in the Far East, North America or anywhere else in the world. However, Austria's A1 Telekom Austria came up with a smart idea and has recently launched a kind of no-frill offer called "abroadband".
abroadband offers EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA-based mobile Internet access around the world for one price - which is all over the world (at supported partner networks) the same: 0.59 Euro per MB. At the moment, abroadband works in over 50 countries:
In the abroadband online shop, users can choose between the abroadband modem incl. abroadband SIM, abroadband Micro SIM or SIM only. And while abroadband isn't a prepaid offer but postpaid, user only have to pay what they used! There's no no contract or commitment required and customers will receive home delivery of the abroadband package by standard or express delivery. The personal "my abroadband area" is where users will find the online bills; new bills are online every 14 days. If abroadband isn't used at all, no bills will be created. Furthermore and even more important because it's not a prepaid offer but a postpaid offer, abroadband says it allows to keep the users costs under control by easily tracking the online use anytime, anywhere using the abroadband "costmanager".
While abroadband supports packet based data connections, neither voice nor SMS or MMS is supported. However, the use of VoIP (Voice over IP) is explicitly allowed!
Last but not least, abroadband mobile promises that if they ever lower their prices, users will automatically surf at the more affordable rate without having to change the tariff plan. Furthermore abroadband mentioned that they are working on offering users even more countries soon.
The abroadband SIM and Micro SIM are available for 19.90 each, the USB stick (a Huawei E173) is available for 49.90 Euro and is currently shipped across Europe (but not Asia, America, Africa or Asia-Pacific).
As you might know, I'm a heavy international traveler (this week I was in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress and next week I'll be in Seattle for the Microsoft MVP Summit) and therefore I've just ordered a SIM and will let you know later how it works.
Cheers ~ Arne