Online in the Smokey Mountains with Skyroam
It’s 4am and I’m a nice ‘conference-style’ hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.
The hotel has provided WiFi included with the room – of course it has, you wouldn’t expect anything else – but its 4am and I’m awake with jet lag and i can’t find the keycard with the password on it.
Come to think of it, I got in late and had been awake for hours… even if I could sign in to the hotel WiFi, I honestly don’t remember my room number (for the login credentials) and it’s not writen on the phone next to me.
Thankfully, I decided to accept an invitation to review a Skyroam.
This little orange hockey puck is a go-anywhere Internet device that powers up in just a few seconds. I had pre-loaded the password into my phone before I left London, so I powered up and was connected quickly. For someone who is self-employed, being able to connect while on the go is hugely important.
Testing the device further… my wife (hello Mrs B) had extended our trip to Nashvile for SUSECON 19 by booking three days in the Great Smokey Mountains in Dolly Parton’s hometown, a place called Pidgeon Forge.
WiFi hotspots on mountain trails are few and far between (actually, they don’t exist at all), but I was able to connect with the Skyroam and check on my football team’s win in the Championship over the weekend.
The Skyroam Solis device claims to be able to provide 4G LTE Internet connectivity in over 130 countries. Up to five devices can be connected simultaneously and the unit itself doubles up as a 6,000 mAh power bank.
It’s a contract-free service that offers three different subscription plans – 24 hour day passes, a monthly plan or pay per GB. The device itself can be purchased for £135 or rented at £9 per day. The device’s management app works on both iOS and Android. More UK and EU details are listed at skyroam.com/uk.
Virtual SIM: vSim technology
One of the more interesting aspects of the device is apparent once you open it up and look for the SIM card — and there isn’t one. Skyroam is actually built with vSim ‘virtual SIM’ technology.
According to Skyroam, “The vSIM sterm stands for Virtual SIM technology and is the proprietary cornerstone of the Skyroam brand. Our Founder, Jing Liu spent years engineering this technology to enable a virtual connection between any Skyroam product and local mobile data networks, without a traditional SIM card. This innovation breaks down traditional barriers for international travelers who have been forced to SIM swap across countries, accept roaming fees, or use pricey but limited options from domestic carriers.”
In terms of specifics, vSIM is a software replacement to the physical SIM cards that have been a core element in the mobile ecosystem for many years.
The log in experience is easy and – once home in the UK – it was easy to connect to the Skyroam and use the Solis app in my home office even with my Hyperoptic network running. From power up to log in it takes about a minute.
One key benefit (that the company doesn’t appear to have shouted about) is that the device could allow users to login to their online banking services securely when traveling in hotels.
If there is a criticism to be levied at the Solis Skyroam it is the fact that data will expire if you don’t use it, which is a great shame. How nice would it be to be able to load up 10 GB of data and know that you had a mobile office to run around the world with that much data to drink on. Change your subscription plans Skyroam and then you really would change our lives.