If you are a smartphone user and love to travel, this has probably happened to you: you return from a trip abroad to find your cellphone service provider has piled on hundreds of dollars for roaming charges and data usage. No matter that you purchased an international plan or topped up with extra data before you left. You’re now faced with a huge bill and a growing ulcer from the stress of it all.
Some elect for a workaround, getting an unlocked phone and performing the old SIM-card switcheroo when traveling overseas – but that’s not especially convenient. What is convenient is a Tep pocket Wi-Fi, a personal hotspot that lets you cheat on your cellphone service with pay-by-the-day Wi-Fi.
Here’s how it works:First, you book your service with Tep, providing information on where you are traveling, dates of travel and a delivery address. Tep will deliver your device to either your home address or to your hotel.
Second, your device arrives, complete with charging equipment, a small tag indicating the name of the Wi-Fi network and its password, and a postage-paid return pouch. Just locate the network on your phone or laptop – the hotspot signal is strong enough for use with about five devices – enter the password, and you’re ready to go.
Finally, when your trip is done, simply pack up the Tep equipment in the mailing pouch and pop it in the mail.
During a recent test drive of Tep’s Wi-Fi hotspot, the thing I found most difficult was printing out a return label and sending it back. Tep pays postage on the pouch but emails the return label, leaving it to customers to remember to print out return labels before embarking on trips. That’s not so convenient.
On the bright side, I got excellent connectivity on three devices simultaneously, including an older model iPhone that is Wi-Fi only.
If you are heading to the London Olympics or to any of 38 European countries this summer, Tep is offering rates starting at $5 per day for a 30-day plan (3G data) to $9.99 per day for a five-day plan (500 MB data). Customers can pay an additional $6.95 per day for unlimited data.
This plan will allow you to fly, drive or take the train across the continent without losing connectivity. If you’re traveling to London, Tep has partnered with Heathrow Airport and Paddington Station to enable pick-up of its devices at designated terminals.
I’m heading to Maine soon and I wish I would have known about Tep before I shelled out the extra fees for a cabin equipped with Wi-Fi. Ideally, I’d unplug all together. But let’s save that discussion for another article.