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WhatsApp gets its first roaming plan, but is it a day late?

Anyone who’s left their mobile data turned on when travelling overseas knows that it can result in a massive bill when you get home. But what if you could pay a set fee to run just one service?

That seems to be the idea behind WhatsApp’s partnership with 3 Hong Kong. Under the banner, “Free the World”, the two companies launched WhatsApp’s local data pack and roaming pass.

The local data pack is kind of interesting. For HK$8 (US$1) a month, it gives people “access to all WhatsApp functionality in Hong Kong”, including location-based services and messaging, as well as the facility to share photos, videos, sound files and contacts.

In markets where BlackBerrys are still the dominant smartphone that would be incredibly dangerous. It effectively removes BBM as a selling point for the beleaguered Canadian manufacturer. Given the proliferation of Wi-Fi access points in a city as developed as Hong Kong however, it might be a slightly more difficult sell than it would’ve been had it come to market a couple of years ago.

“WhatsApp Roaming Pass”, meanwhile will allow people to connect to WhatsApp to send messages and share photos with friends and family at 78 destinations via 93 networks for a daily charge of HK$48 (US$6). They’ll also get 5MB of roaming data usage “to meet their needs when traveling”.

That’s a pretty steep price to stay on WhatsApp and a piddling amount of data. Is it really that important to people? Surely it could wait until you get back to being within Wi_Fi range.

Author | Stuart Thomas

Stuart Thomas
Stuart is the editor-in-chief of Engage Me Online. After pursuing an MA in South African literature, he spent five years reporting on the global technology scene. Intrigued by the intersection of technology and work, he joined Engage Me as the editor-in-chief. He is a passionate runner, and recently ran... More
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