UK Mobile operator Three announced last week that their “Feel at Home” service would be extended to five new countries on 1st July, on top of their previous expansion in December 2013. When the service debuted in August 2013, it was available in 7 countries.
Although the Three website offers a map of the areas covered by Feel at Home, it uses a pin to mark each country. I wanted to visualise the actual territory covered, so I’ve quickly created a map using a Google Fusion Tables and publicly shared KML boundary data. This is complete except for Macau, which wasn’t in the boundary file – I’d be happy to include this if there is a more complete country boundary dataset available.
Feel at Home is now available in: Australia, Austria, Denmark, France, Finland, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Israel, Macau, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States (countries in italics are from 1st July 2014).
About Feel at Home
Feel at Home allows Three customers to use their monthly inclusive texts and minutes while abroad in participating countries to contact UK numbers as if they at home in the UK. There are some restrictions: if you have all-you-can-eat data, calls or text these are limited to 25GB data, 3000 minutes and 5000 texts respectively. The tethering/personal hotspot facility is also not available. In spite of these limits, it is a pretty generous deal.
I discovered just how much difference this can make with two visits to the United States in 2013. In July I accrued more than £20 of roaming charges through light use in a couple of days, while in December – when I stayed for longer – I was able to use data as much as I needed without incurring any charges. As Three’s plans are pretty good value anyhow (mine is less than £20/month), this is a bargain.
Other than brief calls to family in the UK, I don’t find myself using texts and minutes from abroad, but the ability to access mobile data without worrying about the cost when you’re in an unfamiliar environment is fantastic. You can also use services such as WhatsApp and iMessage for messaging, and Skype or FaceTime for calls if needed. I find Feel at Home invaluable when I’m visiting a country where it is available, and hope it is extended to other countries soon.
The European Parliament will abolish charges for roaming in the EU by December 2015, which is long overdue and very welcome, but in the meantime (and for the non-EU countries it covers) Three’s Feel at Home is a good start.