QIK plus MAXRoam? Not as awesome as you'd think [updated].

by Ben Smith on 15th April 2009

Yesterday QIK and MaxRoam announced a collaboration ‘QIKRoam’ which allows you to buy a QIK-branded MAXRoam SIM with pre-pay credit that can be used for live-streaming video whilst overseas.  In effect, it’s just a co-branded version of the existing MAXRoam product, but it highlights the recently-introduced data capability MAXRoam have nicely and appeals to the video bloggers amongst us. Nice.

Or not.  If you read the small print.

For calls MAXRoam is undoubtably cheaper than native roaming and works well, but unlike voice minutes they can’t yet offer a standard fee per country for data usage.  This requires a cumbersome hop through the QIKRoam site to lookup the rates for a country which give a ‘lowest price per 100KB’ in your currency and then on to the coverage detail which details the data cost for each of the operators they partner with (but only in US$).

On examination – and doing the currency conversions via Google – this shows costs of £3.69 (lowest) to £17.61 (highest) per megabyte in Luxembourg, my next European destination.  Similar rates also apply to Ireland and France when I checked them.  Using QIK’s own numbers for the size of an example video stream, ten minutes via QIKRoam would cost £54.12 even via the cheapest partners above.  At those prices only a very few consumers will find it attractive…. Not least because in Europe a UK operator data-roaming is normally cheaper (Three £3 per MBO2 £2.94 per MB) and can be less than half (T-Mobile, £1.50 per MB).

Seperately QIK and MAXRoam are hugely impressive products.  Together they don’t quite cut it yet.  It certainly doesn’t live up to the hype of Ramu Sunkara (Qik’s CEO) when he says “Go mobile, not broke.”

Update: Pat from MaxRoam has been in touch and asked me to point out that the service compares much more favourably  for roaming in the US, where over 70% of MaxRoam’s customers use the service and data is available for around €4 per megabyte versus roaming rates from network operators around the €8 price-point.  Whilst I’m happy to acknowledge that the QIKRoam product certanly compares more favourably on cost per megabyte in this situation this rate moves the price over £60 for ten minutes of video.  At that price I stand by my observation that this will not appeal to consumers – and even the largest of enterprises may expect a higher quality solution for over £300 per hour.

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