In the Trenches: Getting Connected Overseas

In my business, I need to be connected pretty much all the time. That’s easy to do when I’m in the U.S., but when I leave, it’s a whole different story. Staying connected abroad is still insanely expensive and incredibly frustrating.

I’m don’t have heavy or complicated data needs. I simply need to stay in touch via email. If something important requires my involvement, then I can find a Wi-Fi hotspot and log on. But for the most part, I just need to be available for troubleshooting when I’m out.

In the U.S., that’s simple. I have phone service via T-Mobile and a wireless card in my computer from Verizon. I did that on purpose: Two different networks provide more widespread coverage. But internationally, none of this works well.

I used to have a Blackberry, and with T-Mobile, you could pay a flat fee and get unlimited email. That was excellent. But then I joined the rest of the free world and migrated toward Android (or iPhone). Now that email option isn’t available and instead, I pay through the nose.

I was in Germany in May and within a couple hours of landing, I had a text message saying I had reached $50 in data usage. I hadn’t done anything except turn on my phone and it did the rest.

I was up in Canada last week and actually turned my data connection off, yet somehow I still got that same text message from T-Mobile gleefully telling me that it was going to charge me incredibly inflated rates for data that I hadn’t even used. That combined with horrifically slow internet speeds in the hotel left me mostly unconnected, and full of anxiety.

My frustration is mounting. How do you deal with connectivity while traveling outside the country? My next trip outside the U.S. is in October and I’d like to have a new plan by then.

About Brett Snyder

Brett is the Founder and President of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. He also writes the consumer air travel blog, The Cranky Flier.
This entry was posted in Trends and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
8 comments
Helen Dimas
Helen Dimas

Hey Marcos, Thanks for the iPhone suggestion. Good to know about unlock.co.nz. I've been using an international SIM card from MySims2Go - so one global SIM number you could use in every county you visit, no need to keep buying local SIM cards. Works great for me, I pay local mobile rates and also can make really cheap calls from my mobile to friends back home.

Marcos
Marcos

1) buy a unlocked iPhone 4 2) go to eBay and buy a simcard cutter 3) anywhere in the world you can buy a prepaid simcard 4) cut the regular simcard into mini simcard 5) add money 6) go to unlock.co.nz from your iPhone 4 and select your carrier 7) doneDid this in 12 different countries already. Looks complex in the first time, but you get used to. And is cheap.

Brett Snyder
Brett Snyder

Thanks everyone.sendaiben - Interesting option. Pretty limited on the countries right now but it could be good for those where it operates.Xandrios - Unfortunately I mean anything outside the US borders. I just struggled up in Canada and I have a Mexico trip coming up. So it's a broader issue for me.The Blackberry may be the way to go again. I think I may need to dust off my BBerry and put it back into service when I travel.

Steve
Steve

AT&T's data roaming is actually pretty inexpensive. They just lowered prices.

Ed Kelty
Ed Kelty

We have used a Blackberry in the Baltic Sea and in Malaysia, among many countries. It always works under the T-Mobile International plan. In addition to your domestic data charges, you just contact them and sign up for the $20 per month international access. We only use e-mail and skip the phone. It is a great way to keep in contact at a reasonable price. People respond just as they do domestically.

Xandrios
Xandrios

If with Overseas you mean Europe, there is a fairly simple solution: Vodafone.Vodafone simcards bought in NL and I believe also in the UK offer a product called HTA or Home Tariff Abroad. It means that for 1 or 2 euros per day, you can use the simcard for data access in *any* country that has the Vodafone network. This almost the whole of Europe.Yes, you will need to switch simcards. But you will have data access at a very reasonable price..

Steve Kalman
Steve Kalman

I've stayed with BBerry because I can get worldwide data on a flat rate and also because there aren't that many quad band phones available in the US. I also have a GSM "just a phone" that I bought in .NL that takes a SIM card. I buy one on landing (often at the airport vending machines near baggage claim) and use it for voice.I do miss the ability to tether, but hotels and hot spots are generally sufficient.