For our UK readers that are fed up with roaming charges, Three has been offering their "Feel at Home" service for a while now. For those that don't know, Three offers customers traveling abroad the ability to use their existing allowance without any extra charges. That means if – like our UK main, Tom Dawson – you have unlimited data, you can use that overseas as well (aside from the 12GB fair usage policy and lack of tethering) and the same goes for any minutes or text messages you have in your plan. The idea is that whether or not you're going to the US or to somewhere more exotic like Hong Kong you'll still be able to call, text and surf the web as if you're at home. We've taken a look at Three's Feel at Home before, but when in Barcelona for this year's Mobile World Congress, I was sent a Three SIM to try out, and here's what I found out.
Three's landing page for their Feel At Home service (which neatly lists all the supported destinations) puts it best; "Roaming charges suck." This little snippet perfectly explains the experience one can have when traveling if they don't have a service that's meant for the country they're in, or if they don't have a service that offers free international roaming. Not many services in the US offer such a thing, so when I traveled to Barcelona, Spain for Mobile World Congress I went knowing I was equipped with appropriate services. This included calls and texts to the UK from Spain, but more importantly, it allowed me to call and text to my friends and loved ones back home here in the US, although this did require some extra funds. The "Feel at Home" slogan is not just a clever name, the SIM will allow travelers from the UK to feel as if they are, back at home in the UK. It isn't a roaming SIM designed to be taken all over the world. Crucially however, the SIM provided to us including unlimited data, giving us 12GB to use – as per Three's fair usage policy – to upload photos and keep in touch with the rest of the team covering the event.
For me especially, the process for getting everything ready for the trip in regards to the service I would use there was extremely simple, more so because everything was set up for me for the most part. The most I had to do was turn on international data roaming with the Three SIM inserted in my Xperia Z3 and select to register on a preferred network. From there I could just use my phone as I normally would. Now if there were any caveats, it would be that I had limited choices for networks when in Barcelona. Not by number, as there were a handful of choices for me from Movistar to Vodafone, but more by coverage and I was limited to 3G services unfortunately which made uploads and any data service a bit slower than I was hoping. Beyond this though, having the service available was great as I would have been limited to WiFi otherwise, and the WiFi at most of the events was pretty horrid.
Not only was the process simple, but it was a lot less expensive than what it would have cost had I decided to roam with say, T-Mobile. Three also made it really easy to choose the package we wanted for the trip based on where we were traveling, and how much data and how many minutes we would need. Aside from the cost, should the service that I was registered to in Barcelona give me problems, I could have easily switched to and from any other available 3G networks, so it would have been highly unlikely that I was without service in most areas, although it did seem a bit congested on Movistar in certain parts of the convention halls, but this is really no reflection on Three as this wasn't a Three network. In the end, having the Feel at Home Service actually did make me feel more at home, because without it I would have had much less communication, and that was simply not an option for me.