We all know how useful mobile broadband can be, especially if you’re the type who gets out and about, either travelling for work or socially. However, for all of the appeal of Internet on the go and a wealth of mobile broadband offers up for grabs, you still need to exercise some caution when using it overseas.
So, for example, if you’re off on holiday for a couple of weeks then the first thing you’ll probably be thinking about if you value your gadgetry is how to pack up the laptop and take it with you to your far flung destination. In actual fact, the reality of using mobile broadband overseas is less straightforward than that.
Thanks to convoluted rules and regulations, it is still quite complicated getting yourself a mobile broadband deal that will allow you to do this without, of course, incurring very heavy charges into the bargain. Although things are slowly getting better than they were, overseas mobile broadband usage can still be a minefield.
So what to do?
Using your mobile phone abroad is one thing, and that can be expensive, as it’s known as ‘roaming’. If you’re planning on doing much the same thing with your laptop then this is called ‘data roaming’. Many mobile broadband offers may well allow you to use your dongle or data card overseas, but it’ll cost you.
For starters, the data used will not usually be included in any monthly allowance, and the rate at which it is charged, usually per MB, will be much more expensive too. We’ve all read stories in newspapers about tourists with horrendous bills from their mobile providers so make sure that it doesn’t happen to you.
If you’re looking for mobile broadband offers then be sure to pick through all of the terms and conditions in relation to data roaming. A website such as Broadband Genie can help you get an overview of what’s involved, and you can then click through to mobile provider websites to see what their terms are if you spot a deal you like the look of.
Any changes ahead?
You’ll find that using broadband in Europe will probably be cheaper than other more exotic international destinations. The EU has also introduced a law capping the amount that can be charged for wholesale broadband roaming, so it’s now one Euro per MB. Mobile providers must also cap your monthly roaming bills at 50 Euros.
If you get to this point then you’ll essentially be cut off, which is better than receiving a sky high bill that you weren’t expecting. Providers should also send you some kind of warning too when you reach around 80 per cent of the allowance. If you think you’ll need more then speak to your mobile provider as they may be able to give you a higher data cap or remove it altogether, but bear in mind it might come with an added cost. It’s not exact science though, so it’s a good idea to do your homework before you set off on your overseas trip.
Of course, the great thing now is that many smartphones make very good pocket companions when you’re on the go, and these are becoming increasingly advanced. You can now carry out most computing tasks on a decent handset, although bear in mind that you will be subject to similar rules and regulations when it comes to roaming overseas too.
One of the great workarounds for laptops, smartphones and even tablet computers such as the Apple iPad is to tap into an available Wi-Fi service at your destination. Most places now have these options available, from paid for services in hotels and airports through to free usage that is often available in bars and restaurants keen to get your custom.
Much of the time, these locations will let you tap into their Wi-Fi broadband service, which bypasses the mobile network altogether, in exchange for a couple of drinks or a light meal. Remember to turn off any roaming options that you may have on your dongle or smartphone though, to ensure that the devices don’t still try and access the mobile network while you don’t realize it.
Guest post written by: Rob Clymo writes on behalf of www.broadbandgenie.co.uk, the independent comparison website for broadband, mobile broadband and smartphones.