So you find yourself back on the road after a long while, and you’ve got used to having access to the internet… but DON’T want to pay £10’s of pounds per GB for it. So what are you options?
After a break of nearly 10 months, I find myself frequenting the sort of cookie cutter hotel that forms the basics of business travel. But being the UK, the concept of complimentary WiFi internet is definitely off the cards.
Just to give you a quick price breakdown, should I want to use the Travelodge special 802.11G WiFi in my room it’s going to cost me;
£5 for 1 hours
£10 for a day (and bare in mind that you’ll be out of the room for most of that… so really, it’s £10 for 5-7 hours.
£20 gets you a week (again, you’ll be out of the room for most of the day), or
£30 gets you a whole month; plus the reality you’ll be committed to staying at this particular hotel for the entire month or you’ll loose out.
If that lot doesn’t tickle your fancy, and frankly why would it, you can always take the Mobile Broadband route. If you’re like me, you’ll not want to sign up for any lengthy contracts. Which then brings your options down to either a couple of provides, Pay as You Go (PAYG) or Pre-Paid.
So here’s the very quick run down.
O2 have a 1GB pre-loaded USB stick on a 30 day contract. If you exceed that 1GB, they kick you in the teeth over changes. Nice.
3 have a 5GB a month 30 day contract that’s £15.99. But that’s a SIM only deal, so you’ll need to get a 3 USB stick off ebay (£10-20?)
Vodafone has a 2GB for £15 a month on a 30 day contract.
Orange gives you just 1GB for it’s £15 on a 30 day contract.
T-Mobile charges you £40, where you get 3 months usage, then it’s £2 a day, or £7 a week or whatever.
And so on.
So I did a bit of hunting and came up with two alternatives.
On the USB Mobile Broadband I found Freedom Talk who charge £12.95 for a SIM that gives you 3 months of 3GB a month on the 3 network. Freedom Talk are a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO). Which might sound a little sketchy until you remember that so is Virgin Mobile, ASDA, Tesco, Talk Talk and BT Mobile!
I found one of their re-sellers on eBay a week back and ordered myself a SIM (I already had a USB Modem lying around). Next week I’ll be able to report on how well it works.
In case you’ve not worked it out, that’s 3GB a month for a little over £3 a month. Once the three months run out, you just get another SIM and off you go.
Mobile Broadband Alternative
But before you start that eBay search, you might want to check out this equally good value option. FON are a network of home broadband users who donate a small amount of their bandwidth to the outside world to other FON members, in return, they get to suck up the broadband stuff from other users.
The bit of kit you need costs £34 and hooks up to your existing broadband router. It then securely allows people in range to sip the delights of your network.
Non-FON users can also use your broadband.. and best of all, you get a percentage of what they are changed to do so. So if you live within farting distance of a hotel, this could be something of a money maker, because FON prices undercut Spectrum and the usual Hotel Wifi prices by about 10-20%.
Obviously you’ll want to check if your hotel/workplace is covered ahead of time. You can do so from here.
Now according to the map I’m just outside the edge of a FON hotspot. But in reality I’m getting 3/5 bars signal on my laptop and it’s performing fantastically.
So much so that I’ve upped the £3 for the hour I paid and paid the £34 to order my own FON hotspot for home. As soon as the order was confirmed, I received a FREE complimentary 3 months access until the kit turned up and I could authenticate my account. At which point I will receive free, unlimited access to FON stations for life (or as long as FON keeps going).
Now given I’ve already downloaded over 800mb of data this evening, it’s already started to pay for itself. After all, that’s 33% of the O2 and Orange allowance, and they charge between £10 and £15 for it!
My plan is that when I’m in the hotel and don’t get FON access, I’ll use the 3 USB modem and when I do, it’s back on FON.
Now… what’s good on BBC iPlayer this evening?