Imagine if you could go abroad and turn on data roaming without worrying what it will cost you. The new service Fogg is a first step towards that world.
The phone app on my HTC One is far from being on the top 10 most used apps list. I use my smartphone (and my iPad) mostly for data. Google Maps for addresses and directions. Mail, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to stay connected with friends and colleagues. Instagram and Vine to document stuff. Flipboard for news. Hangouts to text my boyfriend who lives in Denmark. Why pay SMS charges when Hangouts is free and available across platforms?
Connected as I am, I’m no longer the lone “early adopter”. The iPhone changed the game and today you don’t have to be a tech geek to feel disconnected and crippled without data connection. Your smartphone without a connection feels more like a brick than an extension of our brain. The problem became so mainstream that the EU Commission decided to regulate the market. No wonder, when data charges could be 500-1000 times (!) higher when roaming than on your home network.
Still, even with regulation the mobile operators are making crazy money from roaming. I used to be a customer of Telenor Sweden and when I was in Paris last February, I paid 79 kronor (~$12) per day for 100 mb data. When I went to Denmark in May, they had secretly doubled the price – now you got 50 mb data for the same cost. Ironically, I was roaming on Telenor Denmark.
As I’ll be spending more time in Denmark, I decided to switch to mobile operator 3, who gives me local costs for calls, texts and data in both Sweden and Denmark (except when I text a Danish number from Sweden and vice versa, hence my use of Hangouts to communicate with boyfriend). I even got an additional SIM so I can use my iPad mini in Denmark too.
Still, 3 cannot guarantee local costs for (data) roaming in Denmark. In order to use data I have to enable data roaming. Should 3’s network be down, or in case I walk into a place with bad cell coverage – something that happens a lot in Stockholm, as 3’s network has the worst coverage – I would switch over to another network (perhaps Telenor DK?) and end up paying the insane data roaming charges.
This is why I was so thrilled to hear about Fogg. Their idea is simple: flat rate international data roaming at a reasonable price. And it works. It works so well, that I thought “this must be expensive”. It’s not: 10 GB data costs 149 kronor (~$23) per month. That’s right – for less than what 2 days and 100 mb would cost me with Telenor, I get 10 GB with Fogg. And once they reach enough users on a market they can make it into a freemium market where 1GB of data is free. The icing on the cake: no contracts or plans. I can jump between the plans as I need them.
The service works well in both Denmark and Sweden. It’s seamless, once you’re on and have allowed data roaming you don’t have to worry about it. The mobile app (available both for iOS and Android) allows you to keep track of your data usage.
There are some reservations: It’s only data, no calls or texts. Fogg is currently available in Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom, Norway
and Austria (countries in bold are freemium markets). It will soon be available in Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, Poland, Åland, Finland and Belgium. There’s even talk about the US, but earliest in 2014.
What I like most about Fogg is not the service, great as it is. What I like most is that Fogg will force mobile operators to charge reasonable prices. No longer will Telenor and 3 be able to say “but Telenor Denmark is another company so we have to charge roaming even if you’re a Telenor Sweden customer”. Frankly, as a customer I don’t give a unicorn fart about how you structured your company – it just seems to me that you structured in in a way to squeeze as much money out of me as possible. In the long run, made up fees like “connection fee” will disappear. Text messages will have to drop sharply in price, because of iMessage, Hangouts, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger (that rely on data).
You can get your own Fogg card by registering. They have a fixed amount of cards that are sent out each day. If you register right now you’ll get your card in the beginning of July (you can get bumped for helping them market their service by sharing on Facebook).
(Full disclosure: I got a Fogg card to test the service, and was asked to review it on my blog. This post is neither sponsored nor paid for in any other way.)