The best rate to the UK isn’t Vodafone

When I arrived at San Francisco International airport on Saturday after a 10-hour flight from London, I switched on my Nokia N95 8GB mobile phone.

This is my primary phone, on an account with Vodafone UK.

I had a few SMS messages, one of which being a text message from Vodafone advising me of their rates to make and receive calls to and from the UK.

Stay on Cingular (AT&T) for the best rates to the UK. Calls cost 135p per min to make, 99p per min to receive. Texts cost 35p + home rate.

£1.35 a minute to call the UK? The best rate? Such a sense of humour, Vodafone. You may well be running a customer promotion for no-roaming costs in Europe at the moment, but your roaming costs in the USA are outrageous!

So I removed the Vodafone SIM card from the unlocked phone and inserted the Qik Roam SIM card I’d received from Jackie Danicki at Qik and which I’d paid for top-up airtime credit before I left the UK, as well as purchased rights for one month to an area code 415 number (so anyone in the US who wanted to call me could call that domestic number).

Qik Roam is a reseller deal with Irish company Cubic Telecom’s Max Roam service, launched in April.

Now check this chart showing Qik Roam’s rates to make and receive calls to and from the UK while in the USA:

qikroamrates

To make a call to the UK:

  • £1.35 a minute – Vodafone
  • £0.68 a minute (£0.49 if to a landline) – Qik Roam

Receiving a call from the UK:

  • £0.99 a minute – Vodafone
  • £0.20 a minute – Qik Roam

I made $13-worth of calls to numbers in the UK while I was in the USA plus a couple to 415 numbers in the US. That’s roughly equivalent to £8. If I’d done that on my Vodafone (roaming) account, the averaged-out cost would have been closer to $26 or £16.

A no-brainer to see why the Qik Roam SIM stayed in my phone until I arrived back at London Heathrow yesterday.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. prblogs (prblogs)

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  2. Ellee

    I love San Francisco, lucky you. You certainly made a smart move transferring SIM cards like this. What would you suggest is the most economical way of using an iPhone in Europe? I’m thinking of my 16-day Med holiday this summer.

  3. neville

    Thanks Jackie. It worked great. I didn’t do any Qik video, though – even at the Qik Roam rate, cellular data is still too pricey. I don’t think I’d use any app that makes intensive use of a data link unless it’s on wifi (or unless the cost was really low).

    Ellee, I think the only way you could take advantage of a truly economical iPhone plan is if you have an unlocked iPhone (meaning, you could then use something like Qik Roam). Unfortunately, that’s not the case for any iPhone with O2 in the UK unless you jailbreak it.

    That voids the warranty, though, as well as gives you huge headaches whenever you sync the iPhone with iTunes and especially when Apple release any software updates as they will do next week, for instance.

    No easy answer that I know of, sorry to say.

  4. Ellee

    Thanks for the response Neville, and congratulations for your award. I found your post about Dell and twitter really interesting too.

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