During Fall CTIA in Las Vegas I got to meet a lot of different companies, some to interview for the blog and a few to even consult with on their future plans. But of all the companies I got to meet, the most innovative is SkyRoam, led by Eric Plam. Eric showed me the 3GMate, the first product from the company and it’s pretty unique. On the surface it’s a wifi hotspot geared toward international travelers. It’s $99 for the “mifi” and it comes with 5 days free. Each additional day is $10 for unlimited data, the first 100mb are at 3G speed and after that they throttle you down.
This is just another international roaming device that I’m infatuated with right? WRONG. This mifi doesn’t have a SIM card in it, it has a vSIM or virtual SIM. In this case it allows it to get a local virtual sim for the mifi in every country it visits. Meaning they get really good rates so they pass that savings on to you, only charging you $10/day.
This is a nice deal and very useful for travelers but the vSIM is what’s exciting. Imagine having a vSIM in your phone and when you land in a new country you get to pick the best plan from any local carrier. For example when you fly to England from the US and land you get a message on your phone asking if you would like to switch carriers saving you money. You decide how much and what in terms of data/voice/texts you need and pick a package on a local carrier in England and you’ll end up paying $20 during your time there versus several hundred.
Or if you drive a connected car and travel between Seattle and Vancouver regularly you can swap carriers each time you cross the border instead of paying roaming rates so you can listen to Pandora radio in the car.
Another example is M2M and the internet of things that needs to stay connected. A vending machine comes out of the factory and may go anywhere in the world, if it needs to stay connected to report it’s stock it must be on a cellular network. In that case, instead of paying a local technician to install a sim, it could just be provisioned from anywhere in the world.
These are real and costly use cases that could save people and companies significant money. If anyone is interested in this I suggest talking to Eric and if you would like an introduction I’ll be happy to provide it.
Our world is getting more connected and it’s a good thing.