The data SIM card is something that I always prepare when I go for overseas trip. Prior to my trip to Hong Kong, I have already identified which SIM card I will be getting and how I’m getting it when I get there.
2 days before my trip, my sister-in-law told us there’s this new provider in Hong Kong called i-SIM and they are giving out free mobile services. The catch is that you have to use their app to browse some advertisements. I was a bit apprehensive because I have been through the days of watching ads for internet access in the early days. It was pretty cumbersome. Anyway, there’s no harm trying so I went with i-SIM. I could always grab a SIM card if i-SIM didn’t work out.
The i-SIM is available at the airport when you arrive. There’s a counter A8 at HKIA, Terminal 2 which starts operating at 8.00am. Thanks to my sister-in-law, I didn’t have to get it at the airport because my sister-in-law has already gotten it for my family.
This is how the package looks like. It comes with a nano SIM for my iPhone 6, so the setup is straightforward.
After installing the SIM card, you will need to scan a code in the package to activate the plan.
The steps are simple. Just follow the 4 steps above and that gets you registered. i-SIM will give you 30MB of data to kickstart. And thereafter you will need to check your data usage and watch the ads to top up accordingly.
Each run of the advertisement takes about 10 – 15 seconds. And 4 to 5 runs tops up the data quota to 100% / 160MB. This could easily be done during travelling on train or when you are having a meal. How fast the data runs out depends on your usage pattern. The whole process wasn’t as cumbersome as I had imagined it to be. So I think this is a pretty neat idea.
Now, here comes the small caveat which could get quite irritating for non techies. At 1 point of time, I kept getting the ‘System Busy’ prompt when I was trying to ‘top up’. At first I thought it was truly an overloaded system. But after waiting and trying a few times, I had a suspicion that I couldn’t connect to their system because I ran out of data. i.e. I hit zero absolutely. So I tried connecting to WiFi, restarted the whole app and tried again. And true enough, I was connected immediately to view advertisements on WiFi. This is actually quite silly. Anyone operating time based access should just impose a restricted access to top up instead of just shutting down totally. On technical side, I know this can be addressed easily so I’m pretty curious why this issue exists.
All in all, this idea works pretty well. I’m happy with the quality of access and I must say that it’s very good despite being ‘free’. They would need to get more advertisers to fund this whole thing though. Throughout the entire trip, we were basically just watching advertisements from 2 advertisers. The advantage they have now is that they got people to install their app. That’s potential for more monetisation. Good Luck i-SIM!
To find out more, go to the HK i-SIM website: HK i-SIM
There is also a video on YouTube showing you where to collect the SIM card etc.