Why You Don't Need An International Mobile Number


We live in a very connected world. All of us. While pockets of inequity certainly exist (and will continue to shrink), they aren't impacting you. Not if you're reading this blog post. And they haven't seriously impacted me in the last 18 months of living abroad. Not, that is, after I changed my attitude. Let me explain. 

When we left The States at the start of 2015, we made sure we had mobile plans that would allow our phones to work everywhere. That was screwup #1, brought on by a barrage of misinformation that led me to the erroneous conclusion that stability mattered.

Cripes. What a ma-roon.

As it turns out, stability is important. It's just not all that difficult to obtain. And it's not tied to a series of seven digits. Instead, flexibility and ubiquity beget stability in a world where no one needs to know your actual phone number.

It's true. I've changed phone numbers no less than half a dozen times in the last 18 months. Yet I've never missed a conversation I've wanted to have. You've probably called me. It may have went to voice mail, and I may have reached back out to you via some other platform we both share... but that happened when I lived in the same time zone as you. There's nothing unusual about it.

And here's the best part: since casting off our stupidly stuck-to notion of stability, my availability/connectivity has actually increased. Oh, and the price has dropped by an order of magnitude too. But it's not really about the money (unless it's about the money). It's about being on the right network at the right time. Using the right platform for the right conversation. And full embracing and expecting a connected life.

Do you really think the number of free wifi spots will go down?

Do you really think the series of tubes that keep the bits flowing will shrink?

Do you really think that if you ditch your precious seven digits that your mom won't be able to find you?

Do you really think switching SIM cards is hard, and that pre-paid plans are just for drug dealers and spies?

No, of course not. And if you do think those things, I promise you that you are wrong. I was wrong. I can count the number of times I've been without reliable mobile internet in minutes, not days. Across three continents.

Flexibility trumps history. Innovation beats stagnation. Portability comes with pervasiveness. We inherently know these things. Yet we struggle to change.

If (when?) I return to The States -- land of stability -- I don't think I'm letting this newfound freedom of mobile connectivity change. I'm done with heavy "bundle" plans that do nothing for me. I'm happy blowing through 8 GB of mobile data every month while only paying $12 for it. I'll gladly take my calls on Snapchat or Facetime. I'll message through LINE. And FB Messenger. And Google Hangouts. And anywhere else. Because that's how we communicate today.

We're never -- ever -- going back to a single interface based on exchanging seven digits. I based my communication life around that wrong assumption, and I'm glad I finally broke free.

(For those of you stuck in The States: The image above is for TPO, a mobile network that doesn't suck for you and does social good for others. And yes, it's an affiliate link. But seriously. Check them out.)