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High speed access for computer

I am taking an online course at UCONN that overlaps with my travel in Scotland and Ireland. I leave in two weeks, yikes! I just learned the following about what I will need:
MINIMUM: Broadband (high-speed) Internet connection with a consistent minimum speed of 1.5 Mbps
RECOMMENDED: a consistent speed of 4 Mbps or higher
It also states that some sites are prohibited like YouTube and Blackboard.
Any ideas about how I might be able to stay connected would be appreciated. I am not a Luddite but I am not particularly tech savvy.

Posted by
3282 posts

Does the online course contain video presentations you need to watch that are not able to be downloaded? Will you be downloading your textbooks?

Most hotels in Europe have WiFi. While it is not always super fast like what you might have at home, it works for most purposes. You could ask if they have a higher speed option and offer to pay for it if the basic option doesn't provide the speed needed. If your course contains downloadable videos, you can let your laptop do that for you in the hotel room while you are out seeing the sights and then watch them in the evenings. Or stop in a Starbucks and use their WiFi.

Posted by
3 posts

I'm not sure of the content but my guess is all of that. Also we use a app called VoiceThread to give feedback to one another. My biggest clue--I think is the speeds they recommend. I am looking at a portable device. It is for G4. Not sure if that will do the trick.

Posted by
16827 posts

I have two suggestions to try to improve the Wi-Fi situation at your hotels:

  • Email each hotel to ask for a room with good Wi-Fi connectivity. It can can vary from room to room, and the hotel will probably try to accomomodate you. This may mean a room near the elevator or stairs--not the quietest spot in the building, but one must prioritize.

  • Recognize that peak usage will fall during the evening hours when much of the clientele is in their rooms and awake. Wi-Fi may be nearly useless then but passable at 8 AM and wonderful at 5 AM. Mid-day would probably also be good; I've just never had occasion to test that.

Posted by
5019 posts

It's not clear to me exactly what you need (or exactly what you're asking). Where will you be staying? Are you moving around or staying in one place? Are you planning to just rely on whatever hotel wifi you encounter? If so, be prepared to, um, calibrate your expectations.

It's true that you can get free wifi at most places one stays in Europe these days. But that wifi is not 100% reliable (often it works fine, but sometimes it doesn't work at all), and speeds can be anywhere from good to all-but-useless.

Free wifi is fine for things like checking email occasionally and posting to social media - tasks that are not critical (despite what some social media addicts would argue). But free wifi may not work at all when you need it, and even when it does work you may find it so slow that it's really no better than not having any connectivity at all.

If you really need fast connectivity that you can rely on always being available, hopping on whatever free wifi happens to be handy where you are then and there is not what you want.

Posted by
4688 posts

Yes, try to use WiFi at the hotel. Some hotel WiFi is perfectly fine - I've found the quality of WiFi at hotels has improved dramatically in the last few years, on average.

But if you have a smart phone, buy a SIM card for it in Europe and use the phone as a WiFi hotspot. (Make sure the SIM card you buy allows you to use it as a hotspot aka "tethering.") You'll want a smart phone that not only works in Europe and is unlocked but that also works well in Europe. I have a couple of phones. I have an "international version" of an old Moto Android phone that has all the European frequencies for 4G speeds - and that's what I would use myself if I needed decent speeds.

Mobile WiFi's speed may not be consistent or as fast as you need. I'd use the hotel WiFi first, but I would want the mobile hotspot with my phone as a backup - and it may work just fine for your needs.