Even a few years ago, I cannot imagine landing in another country and not switching to a local SIM card. In my recent vacation to Osaka, I discovered the Pocket Wifi.
I was planning to swap to a local SIM Card, but my Airbnb host (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/6733830) offered us a free Pocket Wifi with a local LTE/4G SIM installed… at no additional cost.
I hope it was on an unlimited data plan as we used it a lot… GPS, Tourist site research, Whatsapp messaging and even Whatsapp calls, videos, etc… And we used it on 4 devices – 2 iPads, iPhone and a Samsung phone.
The battery generally lasted for about 8 hours. I would just slip the Pocket Wifi into my bag and forget about it and only notice that it when the battery has run out towards the end of the day.
That is where technology has led us… The smartphone has us relying on data coverage more and more. We no longer care about the call services and the smses. We now have Whatsapp messaging and call to replace those. The Pocket Wifi expands the accessibility even when overseas.
No wonder Telco revenues are down – http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/Telcos-voice-revenue-to-fall-50-due-to-WhatsApp-Skype-Report/articleshow/47440253.cms
Now not all countries are Pocket Wifi ready. For urban cities like Japan where there are nationwide LTE/4G coverage, experiences will be seemless. But not all countries provide unlimited or cheap LTE/4G access.
It is projected that by 2020, 63 % of the global population will have LTE/4G coverage. We are not quite there yet – http://www.ooyala.com/videomind/blog/report-4g-coverage-reach-63-global-population-2020