Upstart MVNO Doodad Launches Its Dead-Simple International Data Service For Phones And Tablets

I don’t often cover MVNOs around these parts because, well, most of them are boring. Doodad is considerably less so since it’s one that I’d (gasp!) actually consider using — hell, I could’ve used it back during the final days of our MWC coverage when I was nearly stuck in Spain.

The big idea here is that it isn’t one of those MVNOs that’ll get you cut-rate calling and messaging rates to your pals in Tuscaloosa — it’s geared entirely toward giving users wireless data access when they travel abroad.

Getting set up with Doodad is a breeze if you’ve got an unlocked phone and a passing understanding of the phone’s settings — once you get a free Doodad SIM card (well, sort of, shipping costs $3) you throw it in your phone, fire up data roaming, change the device’s APN to “doodad”, and mosey on over to their website.

From there, all you just need to load up your Doodad account with some funds via your credit card and you’re set up for data access across the globe. You can take a peek at Doodad’s pricing here, but you’re essentially looking at different per-megabyte rates per country: travelers in the US or South Korea will pay $.30/MB, while those in the UK and China will have to shell out $.60/MB. Those rates can reach as high as a whopping $1.20/MB should you be trekking through India or Panama, which raises an interesting question — why bother with these rates with you can often get better pricing through local carriers?

According to Doodad CEO Sarah Neill, the team has tried to create as simple a roaming experience as possible. The fledgling MVNO has access to roaming agreements with carriers in 54 countries, she hopes to have the service expand its scope to cover closer to 100 countries within three months. Normally, globetrotters with unlocked devices would have to set up access for every new locale they find themselves in — Doodad’s setup process on the other hand is a one-shot deal that doesn’t require any extra tweaking once the user lands in a different country. Users who want to ration their data for the duration of their stay can also set up daily maximums by way of a handsome mobile-friendly site.

This is all rather neat, but doesn’t Doodad underestimate the value of the good old-fashioned phone call? Not so, according to CEO Neill.

“Others in the space are talk-and-text centric because it’s super-simple,” she remarked. “I don’t think people will have phone numbers in 4 years time.”

She may have a point — the growing popularity of VOIP and messaging apps that only need a data connection to work means that it’s entirely possible to get by abroad without having to make a traditional phone call, but that sort of approach just isn’t going to work for everyone. Still, should the promise of simplicity outweigh your need to pinch pennies or make phone calls, Doodad may just do the trick for you.