How to Data Roam on the Cheap

By | December 7, 2007

This week’s column in the WSJ is about finding cheap data roaming connections on the road. I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t very successful, and hope readers may have better luck than I. But here in the meantime are some suggestions:

Free WiFi connections:

  • AnchorFree offers free WiFi hotspots via partners, in return for ads. Good idea, but poor website.
  • Fon allows members to get free WiFi from other members in returning for sharing their own. Non members can buy WiFi cheaply. More here.

WiFi roaming services

  • iPass Not cheap, but you might already have an account if you have a broadband connection. Check out via your ISP’s website or by checking out the reseller locator link.
  • Boingo offers three packages – Unlimited (North America only; $22 a month), Global ($40 a month) or AsYouGO ($8 within North America, $10 globally.) Once again, you may already have an account if you have a broadband or a mobile broadband account elsewhere.


  • Wireless Broadband Alliance (site not active at the moment) supposedly offers a wireless broadband roaming to members of more than 25 service providers, but until the site comes back up I can’t really confirm this. StarHub says it’s a member, and that subscribers to its cellular, broadband or even TV services can use sister WiFi connections for free.
  • Conexus is an alliance of seven operators in Asia which promises flat-rate per-day data roaming. This is good news but won’t be ready until next year (2008).
  • BridgeAlliance an alliance of 11 operators in Asia which offers Bridge DataRoam, a one-flat rate across 11 territories: Airtel (India), AIS (Thailand), CSL (Hong Kong), CTM (Macau), Globe Telecom (Philippines), Maxis (Malaysia), SK Telecom (Korea), SingTel Mobile (Singapore), SingTel Optus (Australia), Taiwan Mobile (Taiwan) and Telkomsel (Indonesia). Four more will be added in the next few weeks: Maxis in Malaysia, SK Telecom in Korea, Singtel Optus in Australia and CSL in Hong Kong. Plans are US$30 for 15MB (Bridge DataRoam15) or US$60 for 40MB (Bridge DataRoam40).

Odds and ends

  • If you have a UK bank account you could sign up for vodafone’s Mobile Broadband service which costs £9.99 per 24 hrs (500 MB limit).

One thought on “How to Data Roam on the Cheap

  1. Paul

    In the Philippines, Smart Commmunications offers 30 minutes of Internet access via 3G for only PHP 10. All you need is an open-lined 3G capable handset that you can connect to your computer and a prepaid Smart mobile phone SIM card.

    Granted its not as fast as Wi-Fi but you aren’t tied down to just one spot and is cheaper too.


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