Meet Fogg, the mobile data liberator

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.

 

Fogg Mobile red SIM card tray
The red SIM card tray is a nice touch – now I know at a glance which card I have in my iPad

 

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.

 

Fogg's app shows how much data is available
Fogg’s app (here on my HTC One) shows how much data you have available

 

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.

 

Fogg's app shows which countries Fogg is available in

 

 

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).

 

The current price plan for Fogg Mobile

 

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.)

Link roundup May 28, 2013

  1. Violence & Silence: Jackson Katz, Ph.D at TEDxFiDiWomen 

    This is a very interesting talk that nails my issue with the “men’s rights movement”. They’re busy being bitter about women acting and getting recognition (in the form of attention) for it.Also, when thinking about domestic violence as a men’s problem brought an old Radiolab episode to mind. It’s about “the unchangeable nature of male baboons’ violent behaviors” and how it in fact can be changed. Human men are baboons.

  2. Google Glass has been banned from all of Caesars palace and pretty much every strip club & bar. While apps like Winky lets you take photographs with a wink alone, people are getting increasingly worried about privacy with these high-tech eyes around.

    I’m guessing that this ban applies to Memoto too. The point is: no matter what we think about it, “Public Privacy” is a real oxymoron, and as such it never existed. This just makes us really aware of it.

    ?

  3. I didn’t really know what to do, so I agreed to see a doctor so that everyone would stop having all of their feelings at me.

    This is a very good account of what it’s like to go through a depression. You do want to read it so you’re prepared when it happens to you or someone you love. It has funny pictures too. Just click and read!

     

  4. Ministry of Silly Systems
    The blog post Ministry of Silly Systems shows how government agencies are creating the opposite of a simple, delightful, shareable experience. It&#8217;s almost as if they didn&#8217;t want you to contact them. This is exactly how Migrationsverket works in Sweden, except they&#8217;re not this friendly.<br /><br />
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    The blog post Ministry of Silly Systems shows how government agencies are creating the opposite of a simple, delightful, shareable experience. It’s almost as if they didn’t want you to contact them. This is exactly how Migrationsverket works in Sweden, except they’re not this friendly.

    ?

  5. Android’s Market Share Is Literally A Joke | Tech.pinions – Perspective, Insight, Analysis

    Two farmers bought a truckload of watermelons, paying five dollars apiece for them. Then they drove to the market and sold all their watermelons for four dollars each. After counting their money at the end of the day, they realized that they’d ended up with less money than they’d started with. “See!” said the one farmer to the other. “I told you we shoulda got a bigger truck.”

    John Kirk gives a lot of facts about why the Android market is just like the two farmers above: Android has a bigger truck, but it’s not a profitable market.

  6. The Next Facebook — Medium

    A story from a recent college graduate highlights this difference best: Facebook’s Graph Search was turned on for her and she was amazed at the people she could find. “Mutual friends in the double-digits and identical musical tastes and they like Lost In Translation?!”

    I never thought of Graph Search as being able to find “niches within niches” – but that’s what it’s for. However, just as the article says: Facebook doesn’t have any good way to connect to these people. The next big network will allow that. But I don’t think it will be a new network that does it, it will be one of the existing.

  7. Google ‘s Best New Unadvertised Feature: Photo Search With Visual Recognition

    I’m blown away by the new photo search in Google where it’s recognizing subjects in my own photos

    This is a killer feature in Google+. Although I love Flickr, this makes me want to move all my photos to G+.

  8. Thread: My one talk with Marissa Mayer

    All I remember of it was there came a point in the conversation when Mayer had had enough. She just got up and left. I think the people remaining in the conference room were a little embarassed. Google didn’t do anything to change the BlogThis! button.

    Marissa Mayer worked at Google back when they acquired Blogger. The promised not to change anything, just like Yahoo! now promise not to change Tumblr. Dave Winer’s moral in this story is insightful, and a reminder to all current Tumblr users.

  9. You only get one chance to be a beginner

    This is the time to do the impossible, because you don’t know enough to know what can’t be done yet.

    Simple, beautiful, brilliant. In a lot of cases it’s better to embrace being a beginner instead of fearing it.

  10. HTC First discontinued by AT&T: First ‘Facebook phone’ a flop | BGR

    Our source at AT&T has confirmed that the HTC First, which is the first smartphone to ship with Facebook Home pre-installed, will soon be discontinued and unsold inventory will be returned to HTC

    Ouch for HTC and Facebook. But I’m happy that customers saw through this. Facebook as a launcher? Bad idea. There might come a time when Facebook is everywhere, but I’m happy it’s not here yet.

  11. Seth’s Blog: The reason they call it a browser

    Call it attention inflation. More time spent looking, less time spent clicking. We’re being conditioned to sit back and assume that action is the exception, not the rule.

    Brilliant as he most of the time is, Seth Godin writes about why we interact less even though we spend more time online. This definitely hooks into the UMOT/ZMOT and being context aware, providing the right information at the right time to the right visitor.

  12. Samsung is hurting Android – Opinion – Trusted Reviews

    Here is a dirty secret: it is in Samsung’s interest to damage Android.

    I never realized that Samsung might be trying to hurt Android, but reading this it seems like the perfect strategy. For Samsung. The problem is that to become Apple, you need products that really work – which Samsung doesn’t. The new features on the Samsung Galaxy 4 are disappointing (read: they only work with Samsung’s own apps).

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  13. Really small apartments
    These photos tell a story that’s very hard to grasp for someone living in Sweden. Stockholm is the city in the world with the most single-person households (per capita) and living in apartments as small as these is most likely unthinkable for every Swede who has a home. See more at These apartments are so small they can only be photographed from the ceiling – Quartz

Why I just ordered a Fairphone – and why you should too

Today, I read about the Fairphone – an attempt to make a smartphone with conflict-free materials, with fair pricing, good working conditions and conflict-free materials. I don’t expect the Fairphone to be take a huge part of the smartphone market, but if they manage to make the project a reality it will show Apple, Samsung, HTC and every other maker that there is a demand for this. Fairphone can be a catalyst to make the digital gadgets market more sustainable and more fair for everyone. But only if we (that’s “we” as in you and me, not as in “someone else”) make it happen.

Fairphone

Fairphone needs to sell 5,000 phones before they can start production. Currently, they have sold 2,352. This is why you should order one too. Not because you need a new phone (you probably don’t) but because it’s the best signal you can send to manufacturers: there is a demand for fair, conflict-fre, sustainable phones. I will review the phone once I get it, but as I already have a phone I will most likely give the Fairphone to someone who needs it more than I do.

I’m currently in the process of getting rid of a lot of my stuff (The Crop100 Project) and I’m careful about buying new stuff, but this is something I fully support. I see it as my way of taking responsibility for our planet and the way we conduct business and consume products. Saying you want something is one thing, but if you don’t buy it once it’s available your actions speak louder than words. So if you can: join me!