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MEGATech Reviews: AlwaysOnline Wireless Global Data SIM
Want fast 4G LTE data no matter where you go on the planet? This global SIM keeps you connected simply and efficiently in as hassle-free a fashion as possible.
Pros
  • Super convenient to use
  • Coverage in 90+ countries
  • Wireless tethering support
Cons
  • No voice or SMS support
  • More expensive than local prepaid
9Overall Score

I like to travel. Despite all the headaches and frustrations related to airport security and all the rest of it, I'm a firm believer that international travel and seeing the world with your own eyes is very much worthwhile. What I don't like is wandering around a foreign city in search of a Starbucks or McDonald's where I can latch onto some very insecure Wi-Fi. For better or for worse, I need the Internet by my side. Like all the time.

One of the most convenient solutions to this increasingly common conundrum is offered by AlwaysOnline Wireless. They've got a global data SIM card that works with any unlocked phone or tablet, granting you access to the fastest 4G LTE networks in over 90 countries around the world. Is it really all that it's cracked up to be?

What Is AlwaysOnline Wireless?

MEGATech Reviews: AlwaysOnline Wireless Global Data SIM

The main idea behind AlwaysOnline Wireless, as you might imagine, is to ensure that travelers and people on the go are "always connected" and "always online." This is a great way to avoid those hefty roaming charges that you would otherwise incur if you kept using your home SIM while traveling abroad. It also means that you don't have to hunt down a prepaid service at your destination, especially if you only plan on being there for a short length of time.

AlwaysOnline Wireless comes by way of Otono Networks, the parent company to Roam Mobility. We've been a fan of Roam Mobility for several years now, so we had high hopes for AlwaysOnline Wireless too. The fundamental concept is similar, except it's only for data, but it works beyond the United States. Coverage is remarkably vast, from Malta and Portugal to Azerbaijan and Costa Rica.

Realistically, you're covered in most areas of the world, save for certain regions in the Middle East and in most of Africa, plus a handful of other places like Greenland and Mongolia. You will find coverage in places like Kenya, Fiji, Bolivia and Kuwait, so that's certainly saying something.

Pay by the Hour, Day or Megabyte

MEGATech Reviews: AlwaysOnline Wireless Global Data SIM

There are at least two things that should strike you immediately about the data plans. First, you have the option to pay by the hour. This is perfect for layovers, especially if you don't really plan on leaving the airport since you only have a couple of hours before catching your next flight.

Second, the pricing model generally places AlwaysOnline Wireless somewhere in between the local rates you'd get with a prepaid carrier at your global destination and the higher roaming rates you pay with your home wireless provider. That only makes sense. What you see above are the rates for the United States. The rates would naturally depend on where you're going.

Using France as an example, one hour (20MB) would cost you $0.99 and one day (200MB) would cost you $9.99. The megabyte buckets, which are valid for either 15 or 30 days, cost $19.99 for 500MB, $29.99 for 1GB and $59.99 for 3GB. These are all in US dollars. Go somewhere with a weaker infrastructure, like Kenya, and it's necessarily more expensive. The daily rate is $19.99 and the data buckets are $39.99, $79.99 and $199.99 for 500MB, 1GB and 3GB, respectively.

It should be noted that the plans for the Apple SIM are different (read: more expensive). It'd be more cost effective, albeit slightly less convenient, if you put the regular data SIM in an unlocked phone and then enable the mobile hotspot for wireless tethering to your iPad.

A Painless Setup Process

MEGATech Reviews: AlwaysOnline Wireless Global Data SIM

The actual global data SIM card features the usual all-in-one design, so you can pop out the standard SIM, micro SIM or nano SIM, based on what your device requires. If you're careful, you can reuse the outer portions as a SIM adapter should you move the SIM card between devices too.

MEGATech Reviews: AlwaysOnline Wireless Global Data SIM

So, the first thing you'll need to do is create an account and activate your data SIM. They'll ask for basic information like your address and phone number, as well as a password. From there, you enter the 19 digit SIM ID, which you'll find on the back of the card and on the SIM card itself. Give the card a nickname for your own ease of reference.

Activation is practically instant.

MEGATech Reviews: AlwaysOnline Wireless Global Data SIM

The main user interface is practically identical to that of Roam Mobility, which makes sense since they're owned by the same company. The account area lets you access your SIMs, account details, store credit and order history, as well as a bright orange button to "top up," which really just means to schedule one of your plans.

Next, you'll choose your country. As mentioned the global cellular network provides access to 4G LTE coverage in over 90 countries.

MEGATech Reviews: AlwaysOnline Wireless Global Data SIM

Select the type of plan that you want and configure your start and end dates. One "day" in this case is any 24-hour period, so be mindful of the actual start time (and time zone). Depending on your itinerary, you could save yourself a couple bucks if you're extra strategic about this.

Daily plans are maxed out at 30 days, so you'll need to top up again with another order if you plan on staying longer than that.

MEGATech Reviews: AlwaysOnline Wireless Global Data SIM

After choosing the SIM where I'd like to add the plan (since each account can have multiple SIM cards) and adding the plan to my cart, I then complete the checkout process and pay. That's it. The wizard interface makes this process completely painless and totally straightforward.

The Connection Test

MEGATech Reviews: AlwaysOnline Wireless Global Data SIM

AlwaysOnline Wireless is naturally at the mercy of the local wireless providers, so the actual performance that you'll get through these 4G LTE networks will vary significantly based on where you are. What I can say is that hopping onto the network is as easy as using a prepaid SIM from a local carrier.

I entered the AOW APN settings into my unlocked tablet, but I imagine some devices should be able to auto-detect this information. What's handy is that you plan on doing a little globetrotting between multiple countries, you don't have to enter new APN settings every time, since they stay the same. You'll just need to schedule plans for each country.

What you see above is a speedtest conducted in the heart of Seattle, Washington. Ping times are in the 140 ms range, with download and upload speeds clocked at 5.0 to 7.0 Mbps and 0.5 to 2.0 Mbps, respectively. These aren't the fastest speeds in the world, but they're perfectly respectable.

MEGATechie Always Online Freedom or MEGATechie Gotta Go Local?

MEGATech Reviews: AlwaysOnline Wireless Global Data SIM

I wish I had access to this service when we did a Europe trip a few years back, plus all the times I've been to Hong Kong and Taiwan. Yes, it will almost always be cheaper if you pick up a local SIM in every country that you visit, but that can take a lot of potential headache (especially if you're not staying very long) and you'll necessarily go without data until you get set up.

AlwaysOnline Wireless eliminates all of that guesswork (and difficulties with language barriers), because you can have your SIM activated and loaded up with a scheduled plan even before you head off to the airport. It's all terribly convenient and still remarkably more affordable than those atrocious roaming charges. Especially if you visit several different countries, this global data SIM will make your globetrotting ways a lot less stressful.



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