Toybox: Roaming around Europe

Telecom's global roaming service worked well, but be aware of costs

When I went on a trip to Europe recently, I tested Telecom’s global roaming service and the BlackBerry look-a-like Samsung Global (i325).

I made calls from Sweden and Denmark to mobile phones and landlines in Sweden and New Zealand and was very pleased with the quality of the calls. The global roaming SIM card connected to three GSM networks in Sweden, after I had changed the phone’s mode from CDMA to GSM.

But roaming is nothing new. The revolution would be if it was cheap. So, how much did my calls cost? Local calls in Sweden, which is part of what Telecom calls Zone 4, is a reasonable $1.50 per minute. However, calling New Zealand, including calling your voicemail, is $4 per minute. The real shocker is international calls, at $8 per minute. Inbound calls are $1 per minute. Text messages are 80 cents each.

The good news is that all Telecom roaming calls are half price until the end of November this year. So, my local calls would have cost 75 cents, my calls to New Zealand $2 and international calls $4 per minute.

While I liked the roaming service, the Samsung phone nearly drove me crazy. It has about a million tiny, tiny buttons, and searching through the complex menus took too long. But that is just my personal opinion. BlackBerries and BlackBerry-esque phones are incredibly smart little devices with heaps of cool features.

The i325 gets extra points for the shortcut buttons to the camera and new message, as well as the silent button, for quickly turning the sound off, located in the bottom row of the keyboard.

However, it would be difficult to find the silent button when the phone is in your pocket. For navigation, the i325 has got a four-way directional square with a little enter button in the centre. It has also got a thumb scroll wheel on the right-hand side.

Recommended retail price for the Samsung Global is $699.

Data roaming, on the other hand, is a hefty $20 per megabyte in Zone 4, which includes most of Western Europe except the UK. Data roaming in the UK, the US and Canada is $12 per megabyte.

While on the wireless access subject, we discovered a pretty neat service while in Sweden.

The equivalent to Telecom there, Telia, offers 5GB wireless broadband for $40 a month, using a data card and a little 3G HSDPA USB modem.

The modem, which costs around $300, is included when signing up for 18 months. Maximum speed using the 3G network is 7.2 Mbit/s down and 0.38 Mbit/s up. That’s a good deal.

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