A small group of us will be visiting Italy, Switzerland and Germany this September, and we're wanting to rent a pocket wifi hotspot. Anyone have suggestions, or experiences, with companies that offer the devices for these countries? Thank you in advance!
Free wifi is pretty wide spread. Are you sure you need it?
We had mobile wifi on a recent trip to Ireland, and made good use of it both on the road and at our hotels (and it had faster service than some of the hotels did). It was a good deal through our rental car company, but since we're using no cars this trip-only trains-I'm wondering if a good deal with reliable service can be found this time round. Also, each of us would like to have good wifi while enjoying the Oktoberfest tents in Munich! :)
I'd suggest one of you with a smart phone unlock the phone (call the carrier and say"I want to unlock my phone for Europe") and get a SIM card when you get to Europe. I use three.ie, friends have Verizon. I use my iphone as my hotspot - and since i can toggle others onto my wifi, its a great way to make new friends!
The EU has recently dropped roaming charges for most of the EU - they consider roaming charges a scam. As a matter of fact, when i tell Europeans about American cell charges and packages, they think we've all been scammed! My unlimited data, unlimited text phone is 20 euros a month. I paid $86 back in Texas! I use Skype phone, WhatsApp phone & Facebook phone so i don't use my call-time minutes. (6 cents/min).
So - get the SIM card when you get there (available in most corner shops everywhere except France, where they're only sold in cell stores to people withgood i.d.) and use it as your wifi the entire time!
Also Rick Steves has a good post about getting the new SIM card:
I've used TepWireless in the past and it worked well. XCOM global was another that I tried, but it didn't work as well. The new travel options with Verizon's TravelPass or T-Mobile's unlimited 3G data are both now cheaper and more reliable than renting a hotspot.
I think the suggestion to use a local SIM with an unlocked phone is the best bet. If you have a Verizon iPhone 5 or above, it will be unlocked by default (even if Verizon customer service tells you otherwise).
Another idea that I'll throw out: I signed up with Project Fi, mostly for travel-related reasons. I had to purchase a Nexus 5X, but now have a phone that works over most of Europe. It can also function as a hot spot.
But in Switzerland?
Free Wifi is very widespread in Switzerland. A lot of inter-city trains offer it along with the train stations and lots of the other usual places like McDonalds and Starbucks etc. The only catch is that you need a working cell phone to receive the password which is texted to you. Not sure why they do this in CH???
We took 2nd class cars
So did I, the free wifi was in second class.
Even if the Wifi I was using was actually the station's Wifi instead of the trains, that still flies in the face of your erroneous comment that free Wifi doesn't exisit in CH. Especially when you consider how vast the Swiss rail network is and how many train stations they have.
FWIW, every hotel I stayed in CH had free wifi for guests. They would give you a little slip of paper with the password. And I believe every station offers it, but as noted you also need their password which comes by phone.
Perhaps the Swiss want people to focus on the scenery when they're on their trains?
here is Rick's take on mobile wifi hotspots: