Up to now, international travelers have had a few very expensive options for using data roaming off of their carrier network. You could just leave everything on your iPhone turned on, then pay an arm and a leg for all of that bandwidth you chewed up sending Vines from the Parthenon to your friends at home. You could unlock your phone, then pick up a prepaid SIM for a network in a country that you're visiting. Or you could do what I usually do on my trips - shut off the cellular part of my phone and just use Wi-Fi when you can find it. A new Kickstarter campaign aims to create iPhone 5 and 6 cases that enable mobile internet service in over 100 countries for just US$2 per day.
The ComfortWay Travel Case for iPhone is a battery case that also features a router module with a multi-carrier virtual SIM. The idea is that when you're off your home network, you shut off cellular data access on your iPhone and then plug it into the Travel Case. The case connects to the local cellular data network and then acts as a Wi-Fi hotspot for your iPhone and up to nine other users.
ComfortWay says that the Travel Case will provide internet speeds of up to 42 Mbps on HSPA+ networks, and the company provides you with pay-as-you-go rates of $20 per GB, or about $2 for a normal day's usage of 100 MB of data. The company currently sells a small Wi-Fi hotspot device that works in the EU only and provides unlimited data for $5 per day.
The virtual SIM module automatically downloads the correct SIM specifications from the local carriers, then selects the mobile network with the best data connection speeds. An iOS app gives users control over charges, adding money to their prepaid account, and more.
The idea here is to build upon the success of the current device and expand the number of countries in which ComfortWay can provide low-cost data service. The company currently has working agreements and letters of intent with over 50 mobile operators in Europe and North America, and is continuing to work on ironing out more agreements before the product hopefully ships in 2015.
Of course, this could all be just a pipe dream unless Kickstarter backers cough up $120,000. So far, backers have only shelled out $1,816 (as of November 7, 2014), but there are 42 days left in the campaign. If by some miracle the campaign reaches a $1,000,000 stretch goal, ComfortWay plans to make an iPhone 6 Plus Travel Case.