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Rental Car - WiFi v. cell reception

We're headed to Iceland in mid-September and have a car rented through Go Car Rental (anyone have a review?). I've read several Iceland blog pages that discuss getting "WiFi" as an add-on to the car rental because the GPS can get wonky in remote areas. Our trip will mostly be along the South Coast and Golden Circle. I don't know what WiFi in a car means - isn't it also reliant on a cell phone tower signal? I plan on buying an international plan for a week from my Verizon, my phone carrier. What's the difference?

Posted by
391 posts

It most likely is a hotspot device that will take a cell signal and give every device in the car
internet access via wi-fi in the car.

So, yes, it is also reliant on a cell signal and if you are out of range, then no wi-fi in the car
either.

Value prop depends on how much the device/data from the rental car company costs vs.
your Verizon plan.

If you just have one phone on the Verizon plan, no one else can use their phones in the car.
(if it's just two of you, probably a moot point). But if you have kids who will want to be glued to
their phones even in Iceland, then the wifi option allows everyone to have internet access.

A third option is to buy a SIM card for a Iceland service provider that gives a certain amount of
data. Small downside is that your US phone # is out-of-service during the week, and if you
originate a call, it comes from the Iceland #, with whatever charges for calling they may have.
Great if you want to call the next hotel, not so great if you want to call the US all the time.

If one of your phones has hotspot capability, then the choice probably comes down to the best
match between your data needs and cost.

If you get the hotspot option from the car company, you probably don't need to get the Verizon
plan as well. My guess is that you'll have pretty good coverage along your route.

Posted by
15 posts

Our car did come with wifi, which my phone refused to connect to about half way through our trip. (Could have been my user error, I don't know.) But my phone's cell service worked great in most areas. (Google Fi). You should be fine along the Golden Circle and the South Coast using cell service. We also used various tourist maps (eg Rick Steves) for general sight seeing.

And yes, I think wifi in a car is also reliant on a cell phone tower signal. So if that isn't available, the car's wifi won't work either.