Borderless Data Roaming on Portable MIFI

Jump into the Box

I just ordered my JumpSurf personal hotspot for my Galaxy Note and am excited about it. Just as you were about to give up on data then something like this comes along.

Now what the heck is this jumpsurf thingy? (www.jumpsurf.com)

For those of you who do not travel, jumpsurf will mean nothing for you. But if you are data savvy and travel often to a neighboring country in Asia, this makes a lot of sense.

In Asia, roaming can be had in two flavors. There is the daily buffet, a all-you-can-eat data plan that cost a flat rate of about US$10 when you go from Singapore to Malaysia or Malaysia to Singapore or the snack plate where you are charged for what you use. Now the Snack plate is the most convenient. You don’t have to register for extras, just roam with your phone and pay between US$2.50 to US$8.00 for 1MB of data. WTF?!

For the buffet, you need to ROAM with a preferred roaming telco partner in a neighboring country to enjoy that flat fee. If not, you will get hit with multiple snack plate charges that will run into hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

So what about you, who just want to use some data but not sit at the buffet table or for that matter pay exorbitant prices to have a snack? Have you lucked out or did the data evolution just didn’t take you into consideration?

This is where JumpSurf steps in. The prepaid plan is for fixed data blocks of US$0.20 for 1MB block.

Why hasn’t anyone thought of that?

Mobile Telcos realize now that data is the new revenue stream. You do FB, Google+, play games, access email, etc. People do not care to call or text because data is there for you for free. Get on IM, Skype or Viber and you won’t get charged extra for talking or sending messages to your friends.

JumpSurf Personal Hotspot

For telcos, giving you a cheap data plan would mean giving away their profits. This will not do. So expensive data charges is the way forward and we can already see this in the form of throttled data plans for those who exceed their data bandwidth. If Data was cheap, they have no reason to do this.

The same logic applies for data roaming or borderless data usage as some like to call it. There is no such thing as roaming on a flat rate for one simple reason. It is too much of a hassle for telcos to band together to give a flat data roaming rate to partners. You can tell from the Bridge Alliance Network, where telcos who join give reciprocal data roaming charges to one another but the list is always limited to a handful of operators. Often this is to protect their own turf. Lesser in numbers mean that they can charge you for data access when you forget to turn it off when overseas. I have had so many people who venture across to another country and forget that they have their data access turned on for data roaming and it happens too for Blackberry users—for those who think that the BBM service comes free when overseas.

JumpSurfing

Mobility Top Up Screen Account. Personal details have been blurred for privacy reasons

JumpSurf aims to change this by making the whole process of overseas data access much simpler. First you have the JumpSurf device, which acts like a mobile personal hotspot allowing you to connect up to five devices at any one time. Complementing this device is the JumpSurf Mobility plan, that allows you top up your credits for data access.

The device is very easy to use and comes preloaded with some credits to get you started. Start up time depends on the location you are in and it can be up to 3 minutes for it to hook on to a telco partner signal.

The unit can give you roughly 3 hours of continuous use before it needs to be charged again. Charging time for a full charge is 2 hours.

Topping up is easy, just buy credits when you need to as seen on the screen on my GN. The top up portal is browser friendly so as to make it compatible with all mobile devices.

From the top up screen, you can see the balance and battery level of the unit so you know how much juice you got left to soldier on.

The neat thing about this is that there are no messy wires, accounts, or settings to worry about. Though I didn’t like the fixed WLAN login/password combination that comes with the unit, I was told that this can be changed when you contact the system admin.

On my GN, I have a WIFI management control so whenever I switch on the JumpSurf Hotspot, it latches on automatically. All I do is switch off my Data Roaming in the settings panel and I can now access data without having to sell my left kidney once I get home from overseas.

Oh, and there is no expiry date for the top up. Unlike prepaid data roaming cards which limits you to a fixed amount of data for a period, JumpSurf Mobility Service has no such thing so you can use as little as you want.

I am a moderate user and the plan suits me well. For heavy users, it might be better to go with the prepaid wireless data plan on a daily basis or the buffet package—both require some settings tinkering or SIM card changes.

Patented Technology

I was wondering what this patented technology is and asked them about it. It seems that the personal hotspot device has in inbuilt SIM card that is tagged to the hotspot device. If you remove it, the SIM and hotspot device won’t work. This I was told was a security measure to prevent fraud or security violations.

The technology itself is in the hotspot device, where it does everything automatically using the SIM card as a form of ID. The SIM and device have to be registered to a single user so should it be stolen, you can quickly get in touch with the system admins to have the account barred. All remaining credits will be transferred back to you when you get a new device.

There will be a roll out schedule for Asia in 2012 and will cover all countries in the Asian region. Right now, the roaming service is available only in urban Indian cities, Singapore and cities in West Malaysia.

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