International Data Plans: XCom Global vs. Tep Wireless

I’m often asked how I stay connected given how much I travel, and I never really have a good answer.

More and more international flights have Wifi, which surely helps, and I heavily rely on hotels having a fast connection, which is one of the reasons I value elite status so highly – internet overseas can be expensive, and I have to have it.

So I typically spend the bulk of my time abroad at the hotel, or in a café, as even when I’m traveling I’m never really on vacation, and typically have 10-12 hours of work to get through before I can sightsee. After all, the memes aren’t going to upload themselves!

Sweet Brown Wifi

On my recent trip to Europe I was gone for almost two weeks, which is not only an outrageously long trip for me, but is also long enough for slow or unusable Wifi to be a serious liability. The friends I was traveling with have the same need for connectivity, and while we were planning the trip one of them suggested we look into renting an international Mifi device, so that we could all have data service abroad, and potentially be able to spend more time out and about.

I typically find international data plans too expensive for my taste, but given the length of the trip and that there would be four of us traveling, it seemed worthwhile.

In researching, it seemed like there were two “main” companies providing international rentals in Europe; XCom Global, and Tep Wireless. Gary has reviewed XCom Global in the past, and was happy with the product, so I was inclined to just go with them, but since I couldn’t really find many reviews of Tep Wireless it seemed like a good opportunity to try them, so that I could report back.

In the end, we decided to go ahead and rent “MiFi” devices from both XCom Global and Tep Wireless. I had tech savvy friends with me to collect data, and figured a direct comparison of the two international data plans would be most useful to y’all.

 COMPARING INTERNATIONAL DATA PLANS

XCom Global

The XCom Global program is pretty straightforward, in that they offer an “all-inclusive” package.

xcomglobal-main

Their only package offers unlimited internet overseas, so you just have to choose how many days you’re traveling, and which countries you’re going to.

xcomglobal-daily-rate-examples

At first I was confused by the language here, as typically XCom Global offers the flat $14.95 rate for travel in one or two countries. However, they also offer a “Europe Travel Plan” that gives you international data service in 40 different countries, which is what we chose.

xcomglobal-special-packages

Their standard pricing of $14.95 per day includes the option of either a Mobile Hotspot, or an USB Modem. Given that we primarily wanted to be able to use data on our phones while traveling, we chose the Mobile Hotspot.

xcomglobal-wifi-usb-options

The website was very straightforward. After selecting a device I was prompted to either sign in to my account, or continue without logging in:

xcomglobal-sign-in

From there, I entered the dates of the trip, and selected which countries we’d be visiting.

xcomglobal-rental-dates

Since we were going to be visiting two countries and transiting two others, we just chose France as the third country, as our layover there was longer, and didn’t bother including Italy.

xcomglobal-days-in-countries

On the next screen I had the option to add “Extras,” such as insurance, external batteries, and so forth. We decided there wasn’t much point in the insurance, as it only offers coverage after the deductible has been met, and given that we’d have two devices the extra batteries and chargers didn’t seem necessary.

xcomglobal-additional-options

The following screens took me through shipping and billing information, along with the terms and conditions. It is worth noting that Xcom Global requires the device to be shipped in both directions, and shipping is not included in the rate.

xcomglobal-options

Prior to placing my order I was able to view a summary of the options I’d selected, and see the final price.

xcomglobal-invoice

Once the order was placed I received a confirmation screen, and an email shortly thereafter. The entire process took maybe five minutes, so couldn’t have been much easier.

xcomglobal-success

Tep Wireless

Tep Wireless has a different pricing system for international data plans in that you choose how much data you want per day (150MB/250MB/Unlimited), and those amounts somehow “roll over” and become cumulative for your rental period.

tep-main-page

This could likely be a good way to save money on data service abroad, as you can theoretically tailor your plan to your anticipated usage.

tep-france-extra-charge

I, however, have no idea what MB stands for, much less how many of them four aggressive smartphone users might need in a day, so went with the Unlimited option, as that seemed to most closely compare to the XCom Global service for the purposes of review.

tep-rental-period-14days

Unlike XCom Global, Tep Wireless didn’t seem to care which countries I was visiting, just that the zone was “Europe.” They did have an option to pay an additional $39.95 for a MiFi device that would work in France, but as we were only connecting there I decided that wasn’t necessary.

Tep Wireless seems to offer an abundance of promo codes and coupons as well – I was given a 10% off code for being a first-time customer, which was a nice touch, and they were offering free shipping to the US and UK, so I only had to pay for return shipping. They also have drop-off/pick-up locations in London, which could be a convenient option as well.

The website was very easy to use, and even with having more options the entire process took only five minutes or so.

tep-shipping-options-hotel

SHIPPING

Both Tep Wireless and XCom Global will ship the pocket wifi device in advance of your trip. Our trip was to start on December 27th, and both companies shipped via FedEx to arrive on December 24th.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Tep Wireless

Tep’s kit was simple and straightforward, and included the following:

  • USB charger cable
  • Wall charger (Europe, not compatible with UK!)
  • Some basic instructions
  • Device’s battery
  • Return envelope
  • Travel pouch

International-Data-Service-Review-01

Everything fit neatly within the pouch, so all we had to do was insert the battery and turn the wireless device on. The battery was also sent fully charged, so we were able to use it right away, which was great!

I did find it interesting that even though we were going to be traveling in the UK, and Tep Wireless seems to be based in the UK, the kit didn’t include a UK-compatible charger. They did include a USB charger, and between us I think we probably had a dozen different power adaptors, so it wasn’t an issue, but is probably worth mentioning.

Overall though, Tep Wireless was very much like opening up a new Apple product – open the box, turn it on, everything works.

XCom Global

XCom Global’s kit came with a TON more instructions and paperwork, along with the following:

  • universal plug adapter with USB charger
  • usb cable
  • return envelope
  • device pouch
  • extra SIM card

International-Data-Service-Review-08

I thought the universal plug adapter/USB charger was a nice touch, as it meant you could charge your laptop and the pocket wireless device at the same time. I have a travel adaptor that does this already, but I thought this was a great feature.

One huge issue, however, was that the package from XCom Global didn’t include a battery. With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays we didn’t actually have a chance to open either package until we arrived in London, and that was certainly a mistake on our part.

Fortunately the Wifi in the British Airways Galleries First lounge was fast, so we were able to contact XCom Global’s 24/7 tech support. They apologized, took down the address of our hotel, and promised to get a battery to us right away.

EASE OF USE

Both products were remarkably easy to use! I had expected an international data solution to be akin to witchcraft, so the fact that all you had to do was essentially turn them on and go was amazing.

I understand that both companies offer multiple devices, so it may just be the luck of the draw as to which you receive, so take this with a grain of salt.

Tep Wireless

There are only indicator lights that glow green when everything’s fine, and turn red if something’s wrong.

For extra info (3G service strength, number of connected devices, battery level, bandwidth usage) you have to login to the device through the web interface. I was fine with this, but my tech-savvy friends would have appreciated more information, apparently.

XCom Global

The screen on the front shows connection status, number of connected users, battery level, charge status, what service you’re on, etc.  Logging in to the web interface gave even more info, none of which I understood 😉

CONNECTIVITY 

While we didn’t experience any of the throughput issues I’d read about, and service was consistent even with four heavy users, Wifi range was not fantastic on either device, so whichever one of us happened to be carrying the myfi was everybody’s best friend.

I imagine that this would be a good way to keep track of teenagers as well, though upon reflection it probably says something that my friends always found reasons for me to not be in charge of the internet on outings. 😉

Battery life even with four users was as advertised: about four to five hours.  XCom Global ultimately sent us two batteries, the second of which we made use of from time to time.  One of my friends had a USB backup battery that we made use of on occasion as well, and that was very convenient.

Seeing how USB backup batteries are relatively inexpensive, I would probably just buy one rather than paying to rent either a second battery, since you can use it elsewhere in your travels to charge your phone, etc.

3G speeds were a consistent 1-1.5Mbps in London, Edinburgh, and Prague.

Paris was a bit of a challenge, partly due to our short connection time, and we had to reset both devices, swap SIM cards, and even then the service was pretty inconsistent. I’m not sure if France has different internet protocols, but this is probably something to be aware of and specifically ask about if you’re going to need data coverage in France.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Tep Wireless

We didn’t have any issues, so I don’t have much to say here. It is probably worth noting that it seems other people have had rough experiences in the past, though I emailed a follow-up question and they were prompt to respond, so it seems they’re making strides there.

XCom Global

I understand that mistakes happen, so I wasn’t upset by the missing battery, especially since we had multiple back up options as well.

I ultimately think what a company does to fix their mistakes is more telling than when mistakes don’t happen at all, so was impressed that not only did they handle the issue promptly, they automatically credited my account for the days where I wasn’t able to use their product. Impressive.

PRICING COMPARISON

As I understand it, the best option for longer trips abroad is typically going to be to purchase a local SIM card in the country you’ll be visiting. I haven’t done this personally, as it sounds really complicated and I’m rarely in one place for more than three days, but that’s certainly something to research for longer trips.

Between the four of us, we ended up using just under 500MB per day. I’d wager that’s borderline excessive data usage, but we also made an effort to get our money’s worth out of the mobile internet. So on average each person was using around 125 MB each day, which makes the costs of both XCom Global and Tep Wireless quite similar. Obviously there is room for savings for lighter users.

Compared to international data plans from our US mobile providers, however, renting an international data device is a no-brainer.

Once we realized how much data we were using, we thought it would be interesting to compare the rates we would have been charged with our various cell phone plans.

Sprint – International Data Packs

Sprint offers International Data Packs for Canada/Mexico and “Multiple Country” which covers a list of 39 countries, this including much of Europe but unfortunately not Czech Republic.

That pack costs $80 for 85 MB in one month, and is then $10 per MB if you go over the monthly limit. So for our trip, a person on Sprint could have only used 10 days worth of data on the Multiple Country Pack.  Assuming our average usage of 125 MB per day that’s 1200 MB. The remainder would be charged at $19 per MB. So our 14 day trip would cost $21,230!

Verizon – Global Data Option

Verizon offers a similar Global Data option but sells data in 100MB chunks, at $25 per 100MB.

Their list of countries is much longer than Sprint’s, but unfortunately also does not include Czech Republic. Data outside of the included zone is charged at the pay-as-you-go rate of $20.48/MB, roughly the same as Sprint.

So for our trip, the 10 days spent outside of Czech Republic would have required a 1300MB data “bundle,” and the remainder would have been charged per MB. Our trip would have cost “just” $10,565 – the Czech portion being $10,240.

AT&T – Affordable World Packages

Surprisingly, AT&T actually seems to have the most reasonable International data options available in the US by far.

They have several tiers, but for this case the best one would be $120 for 800MB, and beyond that $30 per 120MB. The Czech Republic is mercifully included in the global data plan, which makes this math much easier. For 1750MB over a 14-day period you’d pay only $360. What a steal!

T-Mobile – International Data For “Free”

T-mobile ostensibly includes international data in their plans nowadays, and all the countries on our trip would have been included.

However, the fine print states that the standard data rate is a paltry 128Kbps, which is apparently about 60 times slower than what we saw with Tep Wireless and XCom Global. They do have a supplemental 2500MB plan, which is enough to cover this trip at only $60 per month, and their unlimited plan is only $70. As long as you’re very patient, this could be a good option.

Granted, we were trying to use the MiFi devices as much as possible, and if we’d been using our normal data plans we would probably have moderated our usage and watched less…stuff, but it’s still eye-opening.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

Having my own internet connection was extremely convenient, and the process of ordering and setting up both devices was incredibly easy. Being able to use my iPhone overseas was a nice change, and I was able to spend more time away from the hotel, which was refreshing.

I also think both XCom Global and Tep Wireless offer tremendous value when traveling with a group. We came in at less than $5 per person per day, which was well worth the convenience factor, at least for us.

I won’t be buying an international data plan on every trip, but will certainly consider doing so for longer trips, or when going someplace with inconsistent Wifi.

What about you? How do you stay connected abroad?


In the interest of full disclosure, I contacted both companies after our rental to let them know I’d be reviewing their products. I asked if they had either a referral program or discount they’d like to offer, and both responded, but with slightly different programs.

XCom Global doesn’t have a discount at present, but did give me a referral link to use. I’m of course very appreciative of anyone who uses my link, and hopefully will be able to run some future giveaways of XCom Global credit.

XCom Global

Tep Wireless is offering a 15% discount to readers using the code “OneMileAtaTime” – they have a referral program as well, whereby you just enter the email address of the person referring you. You can enter my email address (onemileatatime at hotmail dot com), or if you’ve used Tep in the past please feel free to list your email and experience below as well!

Tep Wireless Referral

Comments

  1. For my last four trips, I bought a SIM card from KeepGo. It was cheaper than renting a hotspot (around $6-12/day), and got me awesome 3G connectivity on my phone anywhere I went. They just mail the SIM card to your home, you switch it out on the flight and change a couple of settings, and once you land, you’re connected.

    To me, that’s more valuable than a hotspot: super easy to use Google Maps and things like that to help navigate while you’re walking around, and no extra hardware to carry.

    I suppose if you’re not getting hotel WiFi for free then the hotspot makes more sense, but I’m sticking with KeepGo 🙂

  2. Hah I just realized how much my comment sounded like an ad for KeepGo. No affiliation with the company whatsoever.

  3. I have an old iPhone 4S that I use as my “travel phone.” Usually a SIM card is available at the airport just about everywhere, and once the iPhone is unlocked (which Verizon did for free) the hotspot feature is too. So, not only do you get hotspot for data, but you can also make local calls at local rates and use it as a Skype phone to call home over data for Skype rates via their app.

  4. AND THERE’S THE CATCH WITH THE T-MOBILE! Thanks for mentioning that. I’ve been wrestling with whether or not I should switch from AT&T, but that settles it.

    I’ve always had great experiences with adding the AT&T international data plans. I think it’s fair that if you go over they just bill you for another one of what you got (buy 150, go over 150–get another 150) as opposed to slamming you with some outrageous penalty rate. Speed has always been great and you can set it to deactivate when you add it to your plan, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting and paying for it forever.

    Worth noting that if you have an iPhone, I always seem to have trouble getting iMessage to work overseas. For this reason I’ve started to add the text message plan in addition to the data and (lowest) voice options.

  5. Uhhh… are you kidding me with that unbelievably racist photo of an African American woman “speaking” in ebonics to lead off your blog post?!

    As a fan of your blog (up until now) I am begging you to take that photo down immediately. Not only is it beyond offensive, but it makes me completely doubt your taste level.

  6. @ David — Sorry you feel that way and it’s certainly not intended to offend. Are you maybe missing the reference? That’s Sweet Brown, and she’s famous for that one line. I mean, saying that one line is what she does for a living, so…

  7. THIS IS A TOTAL RIPOFF.

    I have purchased local SIMs for the countries I visit very frequently and also have an all-Europe sim from EuropaSIM. The rate plan is great, €3 a day with unlimited internet, 50 minutes within EU etc.
    generally these rent-a-plans are terrible value. Avoid!

  8. I bought a SIM card last time I was in Germany from I believe O2 and I think it was only 10 euros for 7 or 10 days(it may have been for the whole month) for 1gb of data. It worked great, until I lost my phone 🙁

  9. I always buy a local SIM cad when I arrive. I usually hand over the phone and whoever is selling the card gets it working for me. On my current trip to Spain I paid 8 euros for a Vodafone SIM and 10 days later it is still going and I have been a heavy user of maps.

  10. Depends on what you’re planning to do. In my last vacation, I used T-Mobile’s ‘paltry 128kbps’ international roaming and it works great for maps, looking up restaurants and uploading the occasional photo to Instagram/Facebook.
    On business trips, I usually just get a local SIM card – mostly so that I can also tether to my phone. Most short duration SIMs have disproportionately generous data limits, so this works well.

  11. I had a horrendous experience with TEP last year and unequivocally recommend that people avoid them.

    Perhaps their service is better in Europe, where they are closer and more established. In my case, I had rented a mifi for two weeks in Australia. Three days before the trip, they sent a terse email stating that they were no longer offering service in Australia and were canceling my order (which had been placed more than a month earlier).

    I tried to call and protest, but their customer service line was only open during UK business hours, and no one was available. I also emailed and posted on their Facebook page, hoping I could get some sort of resolution in the limited time we had. Then started the comedy of errors of different customer service people giving different answers (they’ll still honor the order, they won’t honor the order, they’re trying to figure out whether they can honor the order). I repeatedly asked for a supervisor or someone higher up to review the situation and contact me, but to no avail (I began to wonder if there was anyone higher up). I decided it was simply easier to decline everything, but they still shipped me a device (to the wrong address), and I had to argue with them for a refund.

    We ended up getting a cheaper mifi in-country and being much happier.

  12. I’ve been renting from XCom Global for the past few years. They’ve been reliable and let’s me connect from my various devices wherever I go so I can instagram anywhere (that and reply to work-related emails).

  13. I am very happy with the T-Mobile plan.

    Texting is free, calls are cheap, and the data is sufficient for email, Facebook, Milepoint, and even maps (I download the database before I go.)

    So much better than messing around with extra equipment or SIMs

  14. I recently got a T Mobile unlimited plan. In Europe I typically get 3G signals, though it has sometimes been slower but never as slow as they “warn” about. Since I’ve gotten this plan I haven’t been to other countries besides in Europe yet but am heading to Asia shortly. So far I’ve been really happy with it (especially for the price!)

  15. As per XCom, you are able to pass along the XCom commission as discount to your readers! But perhaps you have decided to not split the commission!

  16. Very informative and timely post. My son and I are doing an RTW trip over 8 days next month and will spending a day here, 2 days there, etc. across multiple countries and I was considering my connectivity options.

    @Pablo – thank you for that link, as well.

  17. @Mike stop being a dick. He’s doing this for a living. Be grateful for the information. Are you seriously suggesting that he should take his potential income and just hand it over to you? What justification do you have for that? I’m curious…

  18. I decided to try TEP last year.It was nothing but a horrible experience. Since we were going to be in England and the Continent, I was told I would need two hotspot devices. They only had one at the pick up point, and it didn’t work because they had the wrong SIM in it. They managed to deliver the second device the day before we left for the Continent, but they were never able to get it to work either. So after much worthless tech support (reboot the device is about all they know how to suggest) and complaining, they didn’t actually charge me anything, but it was such a frustrating experience, I would never use or recommend them.

  19. I usually use ATT for international travel. From China to Aruba to Europe and South America, I’ve found their international program is the best price and best service.

    That being said, I’m looking to unlock my iPhone 5, and ATT is telling me I can’t….any way around this?

  20. If traveling in Europe, I recommend getting SIM cards from Toggle mobile (got mine from eBay) in advance. You can register in advance and get a local phone number for each country good for 30 days for free. When you travel to second country the phone automatically switches to that phone #. Calls back to USA also incredibly cheap: I spent at least 20 minutes on the phone to United baggage in Houston from the UK and the charge was $.65! I got SIMS for my iPhone 5, my husband’s cheapo dumb phone and my iPad. Couldn’t be happier.

  21. @Ben I used a service in Los Angeles that doesn’t even require you to be physically present. I’ve done it once before, but I’ve found the hassle of sourcing a new SIM abroad to be a waste of my time. I usually travel for work, so they foot the bill, but even when I’m not I still hate wasting the time.

    Google: Spring Street Mac in LA and give them a call.

  22. I used TEP last November in UK, France, Germany, Belgium and Italy. The experience was HORENDOUS! The device refused to work immediately in France and they swapped it out. The new one worked for a little then failed as well. Each country we went to saw issues and the devices worked maybe 20% of the time, though oddly they kept using data. Multiple communications with support was also awful. They refused to swap until extensive troubleshooting steps were taken. In the end, I ended up walking around with 3 devices that rarely worked. Towards the end I contacted them and asked for a partial refund. They offered additional data free, which I declined. After much haggling, try aid they’d have a manager contact to me, which never happened. And to make thing even better, the drop off center had no receipts to confirm return… Never again!

  23. I have to argue for T-Mobile here. It’s actually excellent for international travel (plus free if your cell service is with them already).

    On speed, although they advertise EDGE speed, I don’t believe their current technology is able to limit the speed when you are not on their network (like, when you’re travelling). It really depends on the network you are roaming on. For example, when I was in Japan, I was consistently getting 3G speeds which are fine for any sort of mobile browsing and navigation. The speed was even fine in Bangkok and Cambodia.

    The plus is that international data does not seem to count towards your data package. For example, if you have a 500MB data package at home, and use 200MB of data roaming, the 200 will not count towards the 500.

    Overall, excellent option IMO.

  24. I had a great experience with TEP last year in London, until on the last day of our trip I violated the unlimited data plan’s stipulation of “fair use”.

    Moral of the story kids, don’t use one of these things to download movies for the plane ride home or it will lock your ass out.

  25. Last summer I rented a mifi for the first time in Japan, must say I had a great experience. It was my first trip to Japan and I had read that free/cheap WiFi hotspots were pretty rare so I decided a rent a mifi plus an external battery for 8 days from global advanced communications . The mifi was very fast (4g), had unlimited bandwidth, had great coverage (don’t think there was one part of the Tokyo subway it didn’t have signal) and was entirely hassle free (waiting at my hotel when I checked in and I simply posted it at the airport on the way home). All in (inc shipping both ways) it was about 8500 yen, about £7 a day, i would definitely recommend it to anyone. I flew to Hong Kong from Tokyo and really missed not having internet out and about.

  26. I used to be an AT&T customer for 10 years but their international data plans just outrageous! I decided to try T-Mobile and had a great experience while traveling Germany-Turkey-Taiwan- Thailand- South Korea- China last year. Everywhere, except China, I got 3G speed and was able to Skype home w/o problems. After returning home I checked my bill and for 1.7 Gb of data roaming I paid $0 extra. In edition to it all calls I received while traveling were billed at the rate $0.20/min.

  27. I rented from TEP for 45 days and it worked fine but their definition of Europe is pretty tiny. ONLY works in Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

  28. I rented from XCom once and they sent me two batteries, both of which were shot and wouldn’t hold a charge, fine when near an outlet but I had planned to use the Mifi as a pocket hotspot so I could use apps on the move as well as work in hotel rooms. I wasn’t terribly impressed.

    Since then I have picked up a collection of SIMs for different countries I’ve been to. Depending on what I’m up to I either use my iPad or an old phone as a mobile hotspot.

    SIMs are pretty easily available although often the first opportunity to buy them can be expensive. LHR has some vending machines that sell for £20 what can be be had for free with a minimal top up from a mobile phone store or WHSmiths.

    Sometimes it can be hard though, SIMs seem to be completely unavailable in German Airports and Railways stations, but abundant in Gas Stations and supermarkets.

    It works out much cheaper than XCom or Tep.

  29. I have rented from Tep and Xcom, no comparison. Tep has horrible communication and support. When I tried Tep for a 3rd time and the communication went bad I cancelled the order within 1 day. 5 days later they still shipped and charged me. I returned it before my trip but they refused to credit, claiming for 6 weeks they needed approval from manager. I finally had credit card company intervene. Wasted emails, 6 weeks of funds in their account. Tep never again! Xcom has performed and executed perfectly. Like they latest devices too.

  30. Hey Lucky,

    You should check out TextNow (www.textnow.com).

    I use it to text and call the US while I’m overseas. All you need is an internet connection and it gives you your own US phone number.

  31. I used cellomobile.com last month and was very happy. They have the lowest cost. I had excellent coverage even in rural places.

    I will definitely use them again on my August trip to Europe.

  32. @Garrett Unless your goal for your vacation is to watch Netflix’s entire streaming catalog, T-Mobile’s “catch” is not a catch at all. 128 kbps is usable for anything that doesn’t require streaming. And if you really need the extra speed, you can pay for it at prices much lower than AT&T. lucky quoted $360 for 1750 MB in Europe. The same amount of data at full speed on T-Mobile would cost $200 (you’d actually get 250 MB more). Instead of 800 MB for $120, you’d get 1000 MB for $100.

    @lucky: As you pointed out, the $5/day/person makes sense since you were in a group. But would the convenience be worth the $20/day it would have been if you were by yourself?

    I dunno; perhaps you in particular could write it off as a business expense. But for most solo travelers it would make more sense to simply buy a MiFi and then use local SIM cards, especially for those who frequent Europe. It would be cheaper and you wouldn’t have to mail the hotspot back!

    And for the record, none of the services like XCom or TEP ever have TRULY unlimited data. There’s always a fair usage clause buried in there somewhere, and it seems at least one of your commenters has fallen afoul of it.

  33. @lucky: A little searching has turned up EuropaSIM, which runs on Vodafone networks and works in 47 different countries, including the UK, Czech Republic, France, and Italy. The charges:

    €39 for the SIM card + €5 airtime credit
    €3/day for 500 MB/day (not charged when not used)
    You can purchase a very decent portable hotspot for $50.

    So duplicating your two week vacation would have come to $155, not insubstantially less.

    Note that the fast majority of that total would be fixed costs, assuming you go to Europe at least once a year and add credit during your travels (€39 for the card, $50 for the hotspot). After the first trip, you would merely be paying the €3/day fee. In a group of four, that would be €0.75/day/person. Meanwhile, you’d have to pay TEP or XCom another $200…

  34. This is simple. TMOBILE TMOBILE TMOBILE

    *takes breath*

    TMOBILE TMOBILE TMOBILE

    They say it’s slow but it typically isn’t.

  35. I have rented a Tep Wireless for both of my European trips this past summer – worked flawlessly both times. Great review and similar to my experience.

  36. Tep is the most reliable and has the most affordable plan for me. They use Huawei and ZTE devices that are simple to use, especially for someone like me who’s never a gadget-savvy. Their customer service is absolutely quick to respond to my queries and they never fail to address my concerns on time. If you want to get rid of your ceiling-high mobile data plans, get a Tep! It truly is a must-have for all frequent travellers!

  37. The TMOBILE, SPRINT, etc. argument is good and all…BUT what about if you want to use your Laptop or Tablet? Also what if you want to use more than one device at once? This is where Tep and XCom really set themselves apart, because you can connect multiple devices (5 for Tep, not sure about XCOM). So if a family wants to go away on a trip, it’s MUCH cheaper to use a pocket wifi.

  38. I can totally relate with you, as I am one who loves to travel, and yet not seem to be in a vacation. I try to squeeze in work during my travels (or the other way around), and my work requires a good internet connection.

    Since my first subscription with TEP during my 2 week European adventure early last year, it quickly became 3rd on my list to get before I travel(Traveled to Australia late last year too and will be going to HongKong and Macau on March). First is my airline ticket, then my hotel accommodations, then there’s TEP.

    They were easy to get, no hassle to use, great coverage and really friendly and capable customer service! I haven’t been let down by TEP since that 1st day. TEP is actually the reason why I do not think twice about going on vacations because I am confident that TEP will see me, my work and my vacation through.

  39. Wow those last few comments on Tep read an awful lot like they’re from company shills. Too bad they can’t erase the negative comments here as quickly as they do on their Facebook page.

  40. Unfortunately I could not have more than 150MB. I would have love to watch more videos…However having internet with me while traveling from Germany to Portugal was amazing

  41. Rented the Tep device; was worried at first because of the bad comments but went with it anyways. And it worked flawlessly on my trip. It’s much more cheaper to have than my provider’s roaming and data plans abroad. Saved tons of money and connection was perfect over at my location.

    Didn’t stream movies or videos as it eats up my data. But uploading photos and such was a breeze and the pocket internet was handy.

  42. I have used Tep wireless for my last two visits and their service has been smooth without any interruptions.

  43. At that time I was planning to travel into 3 different countries for just a couple of days. I was looking for a portable WIFI that can provide me an internet connection that is available in those countries. Until I read an article here: http://www.silversurfers.com/technology/internet-technology/travel-with-the-internet-in-your-pocket-tep-wireless/ about TEP Wireless. I decided to avail of their product and I was amazed that TEP delivered the product right into my doorstep before my trip. This pocket wifi is really amazing! I can browse directly into the internet without any hassle. All you have to do is enter your wifi password right after you turn on the unit then VIOLA! You can now browse to the internet. So far I have no issues with the product.

  44. The awesome thing about this pocket wifi is that you can browse to the internet anywhere you go due to its great coverage. I’ve been using tep wireless for long time anywhere and it never failed me. I suggest you try this when you travel not just in Europe but also to other countries.

  45. This is a must have for those who wants to travel on different coutries. Yes there might be a wifi hotspot in your hotel but you can’t bring it anywhere. So this portable device is your solution. Great service. TEP Wireless has an awesome customer service.

  46. I decided to rent tep wireless on my last trip. Though there was a problem on the setup but their customer support help me fix it. This is better rather than having roaming plans.

  47. Do you Tep folks set an alarm reminding you to make a post every week here? If you spent half as much energy on improving your customer service as you do posting fake positive reviews, you’d probably save yourselves the trouble of the latter.

  48. Ah I wish I had read this before I went to Sochi in early February! XCom Global had a special rate of $10/day for American spectators going to Sochi and thus we used that for our trip. We did think about getting a local SIM card in Russia but then changed our minds since we didn’t speak Russian nor did we know the region/pricing, etc. Upon arrival in Moscow and Sochi, we were glad we rented from XCom since we didn’t find any phone companies at the airport and of the stores we did find, none of the employees spoke English.
    Overall, we didn’t have any issues with our MiFi device from XCom Global so we never called the customer service center. It was pretty cool to be on FaceTime with friends back home inside Olympic park & I’d rent this mifi again from XCom Global for Rio 2016!

  49. I guess these comment above is from XCom. You can’t fool us guys. I’ve been using tep wireless and it never failed me. Sad thing is that I was your customer before but you got me really disappointed XCom. Next time don’t be so obvious on your comments.

  50. Speaking for myself, I have no affiliation with XCom. I have never used their services. I have, however, experienced Tep’s atrocious customer service firsthand, and I will happily forward all relevant emails to anyone who’s interested to prove it.

  51. Hello. I am completely not a Tep employee. Completely not. Tep is great. I never leave home without it. I even *donate* money to them.

    My favorite thing about Tep is how amazing their customer service is. Also they are very good looking, and I hear they are single, and totally available, in case anyone is looking. Another thing I like about Tep is how their employees’ mothers are constantly nagging them about “finding the right girl” and “settling down”. That’s the great thing about Tep employees. Their moms just don’t understand that they are *waiting for the right person to come along*, and that they don’t want to settle down with just *anyone*, no matter how much their mothers yearn to finally have a grandchild, and despite their lingering fear of crippling loneliness.

    Did I mention that Tep employees are *great* cooks?

  52. I am looking at my third year in a row doing a road trip through Europe. I rented a mobile data device for the last trip because I found hotel wireless to be spotty or expensive on the previous trip. A mobile hotspot is a godsend if you travel like I do – head off in a direction and decide where to stop sleep and eat that day / hour. I rented the TEP device. And when it was working it was flawless. HOWEVER, it did not work out of the box, and only because I am technically competent with an understanding of how networking over a cellular WAN device is configured – was I able to get the device to work. That and I had thought ahead and downloaded all their troubleshooting instructions before I left. I never once received any support from TEP – their support is impossible to reach. I would also add the only time I did reach their support was before I left for my trip and the device had not arrived on the promised date, lucky for me my flight was in the evening and they fedexed it, arriving literally minutes before I left. You might think I would not rent from them again, but actually I am considering it! Why, its better the devil you know I guess, I can fix the connection problems myself. Still I am favoring XCom, because, the TEP experience was horrible, just afraid I might have to learn all over again how to configure their device.

  53. I rented the 150MB package from TEP, going to France. I didn’t realize that France wasn’t part of the “European” pocket wifi, so I ordered the wrong device. I was pretty pissed, called up customer support. They were apologetic and overnighted me a France pocket wifi to my hotel in Paris and didn’t ask me to pay for it, which I thought was nice. I checked back on their website, and to their credit they do mention a few times that the European pocket wifi doesn’t cover France, and ask you to “click the box” if you are going to France when you are selecting a European pocket wifi.

    As far as the internet when I received the pocket wifi, it was pretty good. Look, it’s not Comcast XFINITY broadband, but it gets the job done and provides a reliable connection. I’m an IT consultant, and went around to a few spots throughout the country with a colleague and didn’t have a problem with the internet connection. They gave me 2 batteries, which was also a nice touch; I was out in Paris for about 6 hours straight and it was handy to be able to interchange the batteries.

    Overall I had a pleasant experience.

  54. This is great. Thanks for the writeup and the promo code. I just ordered it for an upcoming trip to London. It’s worth noting that Tep said it would be a foreign transaction so people should choose their credit card with that in mind.

  55. Thanks for all of the reviews.. I rented a tep two years ago when i went throughout italy and i don’t recall having many problems.. I do remember it would shut me out late at night but i’m thinking it was because i used up all of my data. this time i think i’m going to order unlimited data just incase.. thanks!

  56. @Jenna actually there’s a new twist to my story. The device worked great while I was there but they overbilled me and it’s now been impossible to get them to reverse it- tried through chat, phone, and email. I’ve had to dispute through my credit card company. I do NOT recommend Tep. I don’t know if Lucky will see this but was planning to email him with my story as well. Good luck out there!

  57. Would definitely recommend Tep, no experience with XCom but they seem similar enough

  58. TEP did not deliver product on time after spending $200 on the rental. TEP’s customer service put me on hold for 30minutes and I hung up in fustration. They did not respond to emails! SCAM I will NEVER use them again!!!!!

  59. Buyer beware! The idea of the device and when it works is wonderful, but if you are at all fearful of having any potential issues, don’t use Tep. I can’t speak about XCom.
    When one is away from home, the last thing you want is to have issues that cause you more aggravation. We rented the Tep wireless for a vacation in the UK, but the device was not working when we picked it up at the airport. Calls to customer service only made us feel they didn’t care about our situation as they weren’t interested in helping us find a solution, only telling us that it would take another 2 days for the device to work. Then instead of refunding us the money for the days we weren’t able to use the device, they kept delaying the refund and then had the gall to as us to take a credit on our next rental.

    Do you call this any kind of customer service!! Even when I want to rent the device (as when it was working, it was what we had hoped), there is no way I could begin to go through what we had to deal with. Product is important but Tep doesn’t seem to realize a business succeeds with word of mouth and customer service. If their customer service had been good, I would contemplate renting from them again, but who wants to start with the possibility of dealing with a problem when they are travelling out of the country!

  60. I’m spending 3 months in St. Lucia (Jan., Feb., and March) in a residential rental, and will be working from there on my laptop pretty consistently, so I need a reliable internet connection. Phone access is not really an issue as pretty much all of my contacts with clients are via email. I called XCom and they said they would look into a discount considering the length of my stay (they have a monthly package for $395). Would you recommend XCom for my purposes?

  61. This is a great writeup of both services and I was happy to use the discount code above when I tried out TEP earlier this summer. Unfortunately, my experience wasn’t great. While the signup, pickup at Heathrow, and use in the UK were all fine, I was erroneously charged for overage use and spent weeks trying to get customer service not only to reverse the charge, but to answer at all! They are impossible to communicate with online, via email, or phone. I had to have the credit card company dispute the charge and refund me. Luckily they did so. I wold not recommend using TEP.

  62. TEP Wireless has the poorest customer service I have ever encountered. Device arrived days late and did not work, after I paid more for a rush delivery. I returned the device in August using the label provided and was charged two months later (yesterday) for $250. I have tried reaching out to them but have heard NOTHING My FB post was deleted by TEP and I am now unable to post to their page and noticed that any negative comment has also been deleted (I recalled seeing some in July).

  63. Wow……..you have no idea how much I have struggled over the last 6 months in Europe with mifi’s. A different mifi for each country……..what a hassle. If I had known about the above option, I would have gone this route in a hardbeat. Yes, data costs are about double the price/mb, but after taxi fare, inefficiency in usage, buying multiple mifi’s, the true cost is actually more than the above plans. So, I will sign up next summer in Europe with Teb……..Thanks sooooooooooo much.

    Captain…….My Cherie Amour sailing catamaran

  64. The worst experience I’ve had dealing with customer support. Me and my wife spent 3GB the first 12 days of my trip through Europe (I have to say Internet connection went just perfect), which I considered at the moment to be pretty fair, and then I decided to pay for another so called data plan this time the so called unlimited one for the 11 days remaining of our trip. The surprise was that this plan only lasted FOUR days!! I sent them immediately an email to inform them that there must be a mistake. They answered that they will check it out, and in fact they never responded to that email until we were back home. According to them (and they reaffirmed it on email), we spent more than 15 GB the last 11 days of our trip. When I asked for explanations they sent me data sheets with charges that didn’t even match with the date and the country we were then. Besides, every time someone different on the phone or answering emails… Mathew, Katie, Scott, Bernard, etc., and it seemed they never read the complains and sent automatic answers. It was ridiculous enough up to this point, or so I thought, but then it got worst when they said that they re-checked their data (20 days after, while still discussing) and they actually missed some charges and asked us to pay asap. I had to cancel my credit card to avoid this people for making charges that simply don’t have a way to prove.

    Either this people are real scam, or take really seriously representing some Kafkaesque characters. I hope these comments have any utility. I sincerely wish these kind of business actually disappear. 😉

    Feel free to google about TEP reputation. You won’t regret. (check also this blog: http://www.notquitemainstream.com/tech/2013/01/10/an-awful-experience-tep-wireless )

  65. I just returned from a trip to Portugal. I used TEP’s MiFi device. The package arrived exactly as scheduled. The delivery requires a signature from someone present, which can be an issue. If the device is insured, there is no need for them to require this step. That aside, the MiFi worked great. Speed was adequate, connectivity of several devices (we maxed out at 5) was not a problem and the unit held its charge for about 4 hours. I overshot my data limit but was notified in time to purchase more. They responded quickly on two occasions when I emailed them. I have no idea how pricing compares to other companies offering similar services but TEP was really good. I’ll use them again.

  66. Summary re TEP: YOU’LL BE SORRY!

    The letter I wrote them last month (no reply from them of course):

    10-31-2014

    Dear TEP team:

    You have asked for feedback, and I already tried to give it as an email response but (big surprise!!) this seemingly didn’t work any better than the rest of your process and, as far as I know, simply disappeared.

    So here it is.

    SUMMARY experience:
    My attempts to use your device though occasionally useful (mainly in the last 4 days of our 22 day trip in your home country of UK) came close to ruining our trip and was at least severely stress producing. Worst of all was the Huawei Mobile Wifiapp which, following your instructions, I downloaded on an Apple 5s-iphone and a new mini iPad. It would give readings like 50% or 60% and then, 10 minutes later, 30%. And no, I was not downloading video or audio. Other times (this in the UK) it would stay at 100% even after 4 or 5 hours of use (and despite the fact that it kept charging for a long time right after that). It proved quite impossible to know how much the battery was charged thus making it unsafe to depend on for navigation while driving or walking. It made the first two days of my stay in Paris fairly miserable as I attempted to deal with this and it only became easier as I acquired a SIM chip and data plan from Orange Telecom in France and Spain. To be fair, it worked OK and usefully in London if you don’t count the useless Mobile Wifi app.

    Customer service: erratic like the rest; did a good job of replacing the Franc device which wouldn’t charge at my temporary address in Beaune, France. But often didn’t respond at all, certainly not with the promised call-back. In fact, I was finally able to get attention only by presenting myself through the new purchaser channel on the website.

    SUMMARY evaluation: It’s a good idea destroyed by poor execution. And that’s why I was only able to use a small portion of the data plan I paid for.

    ADVICE to prospective customer:
    You’ll be sorry.

    Well, nothing personal to the reader of this (should someone read it) as these issues are ordinarily about the management rather than the front-line workers.

    Suggestions to TEP should anyone care:
    Make an investment and get all the same kind of devices so (a) they all have screens with power usage available and (b) the battery can be charged in one while you are out using the other if you have French and European devices and (c) rent out rechargers for those who want them along with the spare battery for the same reason as in (b) and (d) don’t promise customer service availability which is not there (i.e., hire some more people to do this in a timely manner).

    Lee

  67. I support the complaint as the company promises you unlimited wifi, and its not real, as they start sending you emails that you are using more than 1 gb per day and have to pay more money, which is not possible at least with me, when i use 1 gb of my mobile plan back home for a month… its a kinda scam . In whatever they say there is * etc. and different other solutions to charge you more…

  68. I used Tep for europe in italy last year with great success. (my bad ) i never checked if France was included on the trip and it came as a suprise when my internet connection stopped as we were crossing the border with the TGV. I generally use a local sim card for my iphone and the on the go mobile modem for the laptop. It’s great
    Andre

  69. Interesting thread with lots of honest opinions and feedback.. My experience with pre “sale” inquiry with XCOM.
    I will be going to Europe more than a few times this year for business. In the past on our yearly biz trips, I bought a sim locally for my HTC one. But I needed more data and costs added up. I’m leaving in a few weeks for Brussels and just found this tep/xcom router idea.. So thank you for taking the time to review..
    After checking out TEP and Xcom after reading this, decided to go with Xcom..
    I contacted them via email about returns as a pre-rental inquiry, wondering if returning Monday after ending the rental on Friday is an issue.. before I read the terms and conditions doc where it says you have 3 business days to ship.

    The initial email from “Jacqui” was friendly and asked me to call to get answers.

    I called xcom…The lady, not the same person, I spoke with was an absolute smartass. I could not finish a sentence without her condescendingly letting me know what I was thinking. I did not get my 2 questions answered.. I gave up and said “thanks”.. ..We wanted to rent 2 devices for a project in Brussels and elsewhere the following week. We were going to be in one place the first week two places the second week. Didnt need two devices at the same time. Do they activate on first use or on delivery was one question.. She cut me off and curtly told me… The whole thing was like talking to the DMV…

    I replied back via email my feelings about the encounter.

    She did email back an offer an email apology. I am not sure I want to do business with them based on the freaking rudeness I experienced with her…..I’m leaving in 2 weeks and will choose an option today.. Tep. Xcom or someone else.. But thanks for the info. I didnt know these devices were even an option.

  70. Completely unreliable access to connectivity plus consumer has little control over when the local provider will cut off access. This is a hugely frustrating product. Tech support is fair but like many outsourced operations they have little authority. Bottom line: the product and company really does not deliver on its commitments and is not sufficiently reliable.

  71. I have been researching the mifi/wifi hotspot issue for use throughout Europe for quite a while. While all the SIM card comments are nice they are irrelevant to this topic.

    Multiple travelers with multiple devices (iPhones, iPads, laptops require a portable wifi hotspot.

    Are these two terrible companies the ONLY options? What about 4G service? 3G is pretty useless for most internet applications.

    For travel in the UK I found that buying a mobile mifi device (best deal is EE) and paying as you go allowed a reasonable amount of data (10GB) for traveling for 2 weeks for under $130. plus you own a new device (which you can sell after your trip) with no battery issues. My wife was able to use her iPhone, iPad as we drove around England, Scotland and Ireland (GPS and local restaurant research, etc.) and at night, we had better wifi speeds than any hotel we stayed at and were able to use 2 iPhones, 2 iPads and my MacBook off one mifi hotspot device.

    Unfortunately the EU roaming charges and amount of data offered for roaming are not practical for use by real people accustomed to US data speeds and usage..

    Hopefully someone has found a better option for people traveling to multiple countries in Europe.

  72. Hello!
    thank you very much for this article.
    I’m searching for a mifi solution for my vacation in Europe in September. I came accross a few other companies which propose the service in Europe. I Find one named http://www.my-webspot.com who seems pretty easy to use with an access in 4G in Europe. I’ll give it a try

  73. Thank you Kat! I’ve been looking for mobile internet solution for my next trip to Europe. It seems like my webspot the most affordable. Also you get unlimited data in 4G… Has anyone tried my webspot wifi??

  74. Hi!
    I was trying to use your referral code for TEP and it doesn’t work. Are you still active in their affilitate/referral link program? Thanks!

  75. I used both companies many times, and found them to be very reliable, but my problem is that they only offer 3G speeds, which is WAY to slow for my needs. I recently bumped into CelloMobile.com which offers a 4G LTE hotspot in Europe, and boy was it fast + they offer an unlimited service which is much better. You can see their lineup here http://www.cellomobile.com/intlDataService.aspx

  76. I am planning a trip in Europe soon and trying to find best mifi solution. I found MY WEBSPOT on a review from PC mag: http://www.my-webspot.com. They are Editors’ Choice hotspot for travelers in Europe. Has anyone tested it already?

  77. I’ve looked at this my webspot wifi company. They actually got pretty good reviews from people travelling around Europe. Rental wifi service are getting more and more attractive as you no longer have to worry about swapping SIM cards and get decent 4G coverage everywhere

  78. Just ordered the TEP wirless option after reading your review and others. Looking forward to giving it a shot on our upcoming trip. Wanted to let you know that while I do see that this blog was written a year ago, the discount code for 15% off at TEP is no longer “valid.”

    Thanks for taking the time to write this review

  79. Hi guys,
    Traveling to UK (London and Scotland) over the Christmas break for around 12 days. Aside from the ones mentioned above, has anybody tried wifihire.co.uk or britishadventure.com? There’s a 6GB limit but may consider giving them a try due to the lower rates, but I’m hesitant because of the lack of reviews.
    Thanks!

  80. @ Stephanie — If you’re going to be in the UK, I’d recommend picking up a portable MiFi device and a SIM card from 3 Mobile. The rates are reasonable, and you can top up at any drug/convenience store. That’s what I do now.

  81. I read this thread with interest since I am a travel writer and blogger and I needed to be connected to upload to social media during my frequent overseas trips. I first heard about XCom when they approached us about sending a sample, and I agreed, since I was heading for Ecuador. Every time we tried to connect there the Xcom device let us down. It was frustrating, but thank God many restaurants and hotels have free wifi there.

    Then I traveled to France for a trip in 2014, and used a TEP device, and at the same time, my hosts gave me a Cellular Abroad device, not knowing I had the TEP. For a full week the Tep worked very well, they must have sent the France enabled device. But the Cellular Abroad device, which looks just the same, never worked.

    Then I traveled in September back to France and to Italy, and this time I tested out the Keepgo device, another Mifi Huawei box, and this time, I had great success with it. The only thing is that I uploaded some videos and used Twitter’s Periscope and that used up all of my 1G of data after two days. I quickly re-upped and have been happy with the Keepgo. I would say no to XCom, yes to TEP and yes to Keepgo. I was hoping someone could publish a chart showing everything laid out, cost wise, side by side. If anyone knows where I can find this, please link it in this thread.

  82. Unfortunately, the TEP and Keepgo services are set for 3G speeds only which are so slow as to make anyone accustomed to 4G/LTE speeds crazy. Neither are inexpensive for the value received. The most practical devices are MiFi so people can use their smartphones, tablets and laptops simultaneously with a single device. The things that must be considered are 1) reliability, 2) coverage, 3) speed, 4) device cost and 5) service cost (by the amount of data or a daily rate.

    The best solution depends on where you are traveling. If you truly don’t need a one size fits all global device but are confined to Europe or Asia, etc., then buying a mifi device from a local carrier (like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint here just as Vodaphone, EEE, etc.) and subscribing to the fastest 4G/LTE pay as you go plan will give the best of all worlds. You take delivery of the device at your hotel the day before you arrive and you sell it on eBay when you’re done. Less convenient than the plans that give less for more but provide convenience over performance.

  83. I had 4G LTE speeds with my cellomobile device. Their rates are also very reasonable, I would recommend checking them out.

  84. Regarding TEP Wireless and the issue of “not so unlimited” unlimited data:

    I see that their website currently lists “TOTALLY & TRULY UNLIMITED
    No data limits or caps: non-stop internetting encouraged! ” and not the “unlimited plans are subject to fair usage” disclosure” as shown above.

    It seems that they now only have a true unlimited plan. Does anyone have recent experience with it?

  85. TEP has been a nightware for me during my trips to Europe so I started using My webspot since last year as I need to travel a few times per year in Europe. So far it has been a flawless experience, the 4G is super fast except when you are taking a train, I visited France, Germany and Switzerland with the mifi and it worked pretty much everywhere except that I experienced a few signal losses sometimes.
    The last time they sent the pocket wifi and it got stuck at the customs in Switzerland for 2 days, making it impossible for me to get the device, but they rerouted the package to my new hotel in Germany for free and refunded me for the 2 days I did not use it.

    The mifi game is getting better with all those new companies
    here is the link for their website: http://my-webspot.com

    Cheers

  86. I tried all of them out but I still recommend Cello Mobile out of all of them.

    I wouldn’t say that I had major issues with any Provider (except Tep which I had delivery issues because their devices come from london).

    Cello offers 4 g high speed and no hard limits. They only ASK you to not use more than a gigabyte in a day. I used plenty of times 2 GB. And I didn’t hear from them.

    Also the devices cell is using you can see is a very expensive late model device and the battery was also very good. It lasted about 9 – 10 hours.

  87. CelloMobile in Costa Rica = AWFUL.

    Let me say from the start that in the end CelloMobile did refund all of the money I paid — but that’s very little comfort when you are overseas; need to use a phone; have paid a bunch of money for a phone; and that phone “works” but does not allow access!

    In short: The CelloMobile phone I rented did NOT work as promised, and their Customer Service was abysmal.

    Here’s my story:
    It was unfortunate, but I needed to take care of some work while I was on vacation in Costa Rica. To deal with this circumstance I decided to rent an international calling phone from CelloMobile, and paid what I considered to be quite a bit of money –$25/day– for a smartphone, with a spare battery pack, which would also serve as a WiFi hot-spot. I needed to be in touch for business via phone and email, so the phone was to provide access to the internet, apps, and phone service. This is what I needed, it’s what the CelloMobile website promised, and what I expected.

    My problems began immediately upon arrival. The phone was supposed to be able to access any of the cell networks in Costa Rica, and be able to function on these networks as an internet hot-spot. The phone provided to me by CelloMobile regularly showed 4 bars of coverage (4G), and it detected 3 networks (CLARO, MovieStar, I.C.E.) but it refused to connect to any of them — either giving an error message that the SIM card does not allow connections to the network (Moviestar, ICE), or that service is not available (CLARO)….. On some occasions, after repeated manual restarts/resets it would sometimes connect to CLARO, but never once did it connect to any other network — nor did it ever provide access as a WiFi hot spot.

    I would understand that coverage might be a bit sketchy when we were travelling through more out of the way places in Costa Rica — but the phone didn’t even work when I was obviously in covered areas. Example: I was in a restaurant in Jaco, one of the busiest tourism spots on the pacific coast. Everywhere around me everyone else is using their cell phones — for calls AND data. The CelloMobile phone showed coverage, but refused to connect.

    From the very first day when I discovered problems, I contacted CelloMobile (which was difficult since MY PHONE DIDN’T WORK). I repeatedly called and emailed –I spent HOURS dealing with these phone problems– and as the week wore on not only has CelloMobile NOT fixed the problems, my service has got even worse. These issues kept me from completing the work I needed to accomplish, and it put somewhat of a damper on my vacation.

    The fact that the phone & data service that CelloMobile sold me was non-existent is appalling. But even worse is that CelloMobile Support represents what is perhaps the worst customer service I think I have ever experienced anywhere. Their supposed 24 hour support does not exist. They regularly close early, and take days off… When I could get them on the phone all they ever said was that they ‘started a ticket’ and sent an inquiry to the Costa Rice network carriers; but there was never a reply to my repeated emails to the CelloMobile support & tech staffs. A gal from their billing department did email back with profuse apologies and promises to refund my money, but that really wasn’t much help when I’m sitting in Costa Rica and need to communicate for a job.

    All in All, a terrible experience.

    Final Note:
    When I first researched what rental cell phone & WiFi services were available in Costa Rica I found several comments online suggesting it’s better to use a local company there in the country. I only found one outfit which had smartphone / hot-spots available — “Cellular Connections”. I emailed and called them to try and set up a rental, but unfortunately they didn’t get back to me for five days, and by that time I had given up hope and rented from CelloMobile. There’s no way to know how that would have worked out, but it certainly couldn’t have been worse….

  88. Decided to try using a mifi and came across EziTravel (i think they are pretty new) for my trip to the US. It was a group of us, so I don’t think getting individual SIM cards was a good idea, besides I really hate switching and the set-ups. I paid about £5 a day, shared between 5 of us and for unlimited data it was worth it. Was a bit sceptical at first, I’m generally quite sceptical when it comes to new stuff. But my husband said to give it a try and I’m glad I rented it! You can try ezitravel.com

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