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Free wi-fi around London and international data plans?

I am visiting London August 11-17. Are there spots within Hyde or Regents parks that offer free wifi? We were hoping to find a park to walk around in while we are there but keep wi-fi/data available on our phones without having to stop at a restaurant...We will only need to use a lot of data for about 2 days of the trip.

Has anyone used the Verizon travel pass successfully in London? I hear it throttles your speeds after reaching 512 MB...I wasn't sure if it would be better to find free wi-fi, use travel pass or buy a SIM card for our iphone 6s's.

Thanks!

Posted by
408 posts

Hi-I’ve used the Verizon travel pass on several trips to London during the past 18 months and have been generally happy with it. On any trip (5-7 days) I use about 1GB of data (I do use CityMapper while out and about but I’m not streaming movies or video).

On a couple of trips the service ce was S-L-O-W but 2 adjustments helped:

1) I made a change in settings so that I manually chose the carrier rather than Verizon automatically choosing the carrier. From the options Verizon have me (EE, O2, others) I chose whichever had the strongest signal where I was at the time.

2) I read somewhere that deselecting “Enable LTE” in cellular settings can improve speed, and it seemed to. I guess the idea is that rather than continually searching/waiting for an LTE signal, it will just go ahead and use 3G. For my general web searching that was fine.

Posted by
4881 posts

Free WiFi is great for catching up on your email or some web surfing, but it won't help you do real-time navigation - walking and public transit - with your phone. You really need data for that. That is the #1 biggest benefit of my smart phone when I travel. So whether or not I can find free WiFi is pretty much irrelevant.

UK SIM cards don't cost much. But for the short time you are in London, you probably won't save much vs. sticking with Verizon's $10/day roaming plan. I've never heard that the throttle the data after 512MB - where did you hear that? If you are in doubt, just buy a SIM. Verizon phones should still be unlocked, though Verizon has said they are going to start locking their phones again.

Posted by
3892 posts

Unless the public free WiFi is secure, it’s a great way for somebody to access your phone since everything you do on it can be intercepted by anybody between you and the router.

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks for the tips!

Verizon states on their website that they throttle after 512 MB. I think it's a newer thing within the past year :(

Can you buy SIM cards pretty much anywhere? I'll check out Vodafone too.

Does anyone know if I can buy the SIM card in Ireland before I get to England? We are flying Shannon to London Stansted and I'd like to have data when I arrive.

Posted by
4881 posts

Interesting. Is that 512MB per day or for a certain period of traveling?

I haven't bought a SIM card in Ireland or the UK, but I understand it's pretty easy to buy them all over the UK. Not sure about Shannon or not. I guess if you care about only data it doesn't matter, but I'd probably wait to get to the UK to buy one myself, if that's where you're planning to use it.

You can buy UK SIMs ahead of time as well from the US. Some US sellers sell Giffgaff SIMs on ebay for example. You may have to add credit to them using Paypal - I think you can't use US credit cards online to add funds directly.

http://prepaid-data-sim-card.wikia.com/wiki/United_Kingdom
http://prepaid-data-sim-card.wikia.com/wiki/Ireland

Posted by
4881 posts

jaimeelsabio:

Unless the public free WiFi is secure, it’s a great way for somebody to access your phone since everything you do on it can be intercepted by anybody between you and the router.

That's great advice...for 2005. By 2018, 99% of websites are SSL encrypted, so communication between you and the router is secure.

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks Andrew! The 512 MB is per day and then it goes down to 2G speed which is not very useable. I use on average 300-400 MB per day but I’m at home a lot so my guess is I’ll go over that limit with maps and such. I’ll try and get a SIM card!

Posted by
4881 posts

Wow, what are you doing on your phone that you use 300-400 MB per day normally? Streaming videos or music? When I travel with my phone, I use Google Maps constantly for walking and public transit navigation, and I use my phone as a hotspot to tether my laptop on trains and buses or when the hotel has poor WiFi. I do check Facebook fairly often, and I of course check email. I still use only about 100-120MB per day when I travel. But I don't stream videos or music.

Posted by
15 posts

My husband and I both seem to use 5-6 GB each per month even when he’s working from home and my phone is off 10 hours a day while I’m at work. I pulled the data from last time we went out of town and it was 300-400 MB per day. He plays various games and does a decent amount of work, I’ve pretty much got PokémonGo in the background all the time...maps, Reddit, Facebook, Skype. Maybe I’ll try and figure out what uses the most data in the background and turn it off. We do stream music while we are road tripping...

Posted by
1179 posts

I've used Verizon in London and other places in the UK. It's true that I mainly get 3G, but I assume that's because I'm piggybacking by roaming on the other carriers in the UK. It occasionally runs slow, but I can also get the same slowness in Chicago at times.

Wifi at restaurants, coffee shops and bars can be a bit of a pain. It's quite rare to find a place that just gives you a password, you usually have to register, and sometimes they'll want to text you a code to enter. The Cloud is a common wifi service and at least it will save your login information so you don't have to go through the whole process each time.

Posted by
4881 posts

Whether you get 3G or 4G may depend on what kind of phone you have, too. North America uses different frequencies from what are used in Europe for different bands. A 4G phone in North America may not be a 4G phone in Europe. (The newer, more expensive phones probably work 4G everywhere though.)

Posted by
27474 posts

There's the answer. The biggest draw on both the data and the battery will be Pokemon.

If you weren't chasing creatures your data might get down to one or two gig a month.

I have 10 gig of data on my personal phone in the UK, I use it a lot - but no more Pokemon for me, too tired of a hot phone, especially in this weather - and with streaming news, weather, sport, and plenty of almost everything else without limit, I only use a half to one gig a month. The other 9 or so goes begging.

Posted by
15 posts

I’ve got unlimited data in the US. My husband travels for work so we couldn’t keep it under 8 GB between the two of us, which is the largest plan Verizon has before you have to go to unlimited.

Posted by
3 posts

If you’re just looking for maps for walking around, try the maps.me app. You download the location you want ahead of time and then it doesn’t require a connection to work. I’ve used it in Brazil and in Aruba and plan to use it in London later this month. It works really well!

Posted by
68 posts

I'm currently in London and blew a disproportionate amount of my data the first few days. I find the free wifi spotty and unreliable. I downloaded a Google map of London (while on wifi at the flat, as it was nearly 300 MB) and that seems to have made a huge difference.