How Silicon Valley’s GigSky Has Corralled Silent Roamers

March 23, 2016

3:00 pm

It’s not quite an episode of The Walking Dead, but it always comes to mind when I think of silent roamers. After all, I used to be one myself (just to clarify – not a zombie). I’m talking about the people who travel and fail to purchase an international data plan because of the complication and cost.

A few years ago, my wife and I traveled to Spain and it was a disaster trying to get data. Instead of paying the roaming fees (which could have cost me as much as the trip), I purchased a local SIM card in order to save some money. Of course, trying to explain what I wanted was like performing surgery, and I’m not a doctor. Eventually, I found success and was able to continue my trip. This was great until we went on to France for the second leg of our trip. The clock started all over again. Frustration turned me into a silent roamer.

One company has begun corralling silent roamers thanks to its universal SIM card. Gigsky, a mobile technology company based in Palo Alto, California, has been rapidly taking market share thanks to its innovative global mobile data service.

For those unfamiliar, a silent roamer is someone who maintains the use of their phones internationally without the use of data. This means they have their phone on and can make calls, but turn off roaming. So, they can “roam” free on their vacation, taking pictures and whatnot, but they do not have the ability to share anything with the rest of the world (“silent”) as they are not connected to data.

These are the people who plan for travel by vowing only to use Wi-Fi (when available) and turning off data for the duration of their trip. In fact, Mobile Industry Review reported that 68 percent of global travelers switch roaming off when traveling. The remaining 32 percent are likely to be paying huge roaming charges or going through the hassle of purchasing a local SIM.

GigSky SIM

GigSky SIM – Image taken from GigSky website (via GigSky).

In fact, GigSky impressed the market enough that even Apple chose them as partners to expand Apple SIM cellular data plans to over 90 countries and territories around the world. iPad users who have Apple SIM installed can purchase short-term data plans directly on their iPad, while traveling in a long list of countries throughout Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa, South America and other regions worldwide.

If you have an unlocked phone or tablet that is not installed with Apple SIM, you can use a GigSky SIM. Just download the GigSky app, and it will walk you through the steps of purchasing the SIM and setting up your account. Once you arrive at your destination, simply select a data plan for the country you’re in. There is no need to purchase a local SIM, use a different company or carrier when you switch countries, or pay your carrier additional roaming charges. Think of it like a one-stop shop for international data use.

GigSky works through an app you download on your device. However, if you have an iPad equipped device, the technology is already embedded and there is no need for the app. Good news is that GigSky auto-detects the country you are in when selecting a plan so no need to search for the best option.

Screenshot of GigSky on iPad. You can access the settings without having to download an additional app. (via GigSky)

According to GigSky, plans range anywhere from $10 to $50. The amount of data varies by the country you choose, but they have a pricing chart for each on their website. Keep in mind that GigSky is a data-only SIM. This means you cannot make calls with your phone. However, using an app like WhatsApp, Skype or FaceTime can fill that void, something that is recommended anyway in order to avoid additional calling charges.

GigSky has gone from a small Silicon Valley startup to a global player in just a few years. In addition to Apple, it has received attention from others, including some in the venture capital realm who have contributed to its growth. Once silent roamers start to take notice, there will be fewer of The Walking Dead and more people enjoying their trips without worrying about data charges.

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Bill Ecksel is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has been a journalist for over 10 years. He has written for numerous local and regional publications and is the Chief Editor for Industry News Corp. He has written on many topics over the course of his career but is currently focusing tech and startup companies. In addition to writing, he has a wife and three children and is a huge Wolverine Football fan (Go Blue!).

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