It's a pretty common experience – you get back from a trip to another country, and discover that you racked up huge roaming fees while you were there. While one alternative is to just not use your phone when abroad, Toronto start-up KnowRoaming is now offering another: an electronic sticker that is said to reduce roaming fees by up to 85 percent.
Here's how the KnowRoaming system works.
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You start by applying the sticker to your SIM card. As long as you're in range of your network, that sticker stays inactive. When you travel to a foreign country, however, it automatically switches your service to a pre-selected local carrier (assuming that country is one of the 220 that are covered by KnowRoaming).
Using the free accompanying app, you can check the rates for that carrier before leaving, then add funds to your account to cover your local voice, data and texting fees while abroad. Any unused funds can be used on subsequent trips, and you can top up your account if you use them all up before your trip is over – the app lets you keep tabs on your accumulated charges in real time.
You can still receive calls made to you on your home network, as long as you have already enabled call forwarding for that number ... this does mean, however, that you need to purchase a second number for those calls to be forwarded to.
The KnowRoaming sticker is reportedly compatible with all unlocked phones and SIM cards, while the account-managing app works with iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry systems.
The company is currently crowd-funding commercial development of the system. A single-person package can be pre-ordered for a pledge of US$35, with shipping estimated to take place next February – assuming the funding goal is met.